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Letter XXVIII[1]

And here we are in Delhi – the great city of the Moguls. If other cities and places in India kept us, as if enchanted, under the influence of a magical dream with its fleeting visions of everything that was ever charming in architecture, then Delhi remained forever imprinted in our memories as the embodiment of a seemingly indestructible and yet defeated giant, the sleeping Sampson, who left his thick locks in the hands of the treacherous Delilah. Nowhere in all devastated India will you find so many testimonies of the power of the Muslim Empire, nowhere will you feel so compelled to reverently bow before the memory of the great masters who created the Nadir Shah Mosque, the Qutb Minar, the Delhi palace, and most importantly, the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Delhi emerged in front of us from behind a hillock, a few minutes before sunset, and instantly conjured up in me the memory of the gold-pearl capital of Mahomet's paradise, according to the stories of the Prophet. During one of his spiritual excursions to this newly discovered heavenly region, the poet-prophet had the opportunity to see and describe in detail to us one angel, the lower half of whose body consisted of flame, and the upper half of transparent ice: both elements hostile to each other got along perfectly, without harming each other at the least. At the first glance at the ancient capital of Shah Jahan, I remembered the image of this angel. Assuming that Mohammed prophetically saw Delhi in the distant future and with such a sunset, his “fire-ice” angel is only an eastern and very true metaphor of this city. Filled with the crimson-golden flame of the setting sun, the entire lower part of the palaces, mosques, minarets of Delhi, built without exception from red sandstone, seemed like a huge burning fire, from the depths of which it rose high, being lost in the transparent and already extinct blue of the evening air, the upper part of the buildings – marble domes, minarets, towers of dazzling whiteness... And above all this, like the body and head of an “angel,” erected on a rocky hillock, so high that the platform on which it was built stands more than 30 feet [9.14 m] above the level of the highest roofs of Delhi – towered Jumma Musjid, the main mosque of the city. With its forest of towers, battlements and minarets, above a striped head of three black and white marble domes, this mosque is the most remarkable in its originality, if not in beauty, in India.[2] The spectacle was majestic and made all of us unanimously exclaim with surprise.

The ancient city, on whose ruins Shah Jahan built Delhi in the 17th century, was called Indraprastha in the history of India, and then Indrapat. Its founder was the King Yudhishthira, whose death, according to the ancient chronicles of the Brahmins, was in 3101 BC. Before the Christian era, the history of this capital is covered with impenetrable darkness, among which there are occasional glimpses of events, the historical fidelity of which is confirmed by the history of other peoples. There is the chronicle of Indrapat, from its very foundation to the end, of course; but it is in the hands of the Brahmins and is hidden by them, like many other things, under the pretext that as long as the Kali Yuga (black period) continues, the Aryans should not open their history to “white” enemies. And since 42,721 years remain until the end of this and the beginning of the next Satya Yuga, until then our learned orientalists will have time to grow old, and great secrets of the ancient history of India will not be revealed to our generation. European scholars take revenge on the Brahmins for this, rejecting their testimony and the historical accuracy of even the little that the native historiographers agree to tell them ... And what, in spite of them, is known and accepted by everyone – can be told in a few words. Even this is of extraordinary interest, thanks to the seemingly fabulous events...

Skipping whole centuries, we find Indrapat, chosen as the capital by the King Anang Pal several hundred years before the birth of Christ. This is followed by a long intermission. The Brahmins do not let the profane go backstage, but tell friends and enemies about the extraordinary riches and civilization of this capital of northwestern India and translate entire pages from ancient manuscripts.

Around 980 AD, the Raja of Indrapat was a member and ally of the native confederation, first defeated by the Punjabi Raja Sebektegin, and then by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1008. Finally, and only after the invasion of India by Mohammed Shahab Uddin of Ghor in 1191, we find Indrapat by one of the four great powers of India, renamed in 1193 by Shahab-Udin in the empire of Delhi. The Muslim historian Ferishta claims that the Sultan of Ghor took this empire from Prithviraja, a Rajput prince who, despite a cavalry of 300,000 horsemen and 3,000 elephants, lost the battle. But these “historical” alleged events are so confused and unclear that in the chronicles of Ajmer it is said, on the contrary, that it was not Prithviraja who fell, but the latter defeated Mohammed Shahab Uddin and, cutting off his head, made a stuffed one out of it, which was kept for many centuries in the armory of the Rajput Kings. But the same chronicles tell that a few years later, as a result of a quarrel between the confederates of Qutb ad-Din, the Ghor General actually defeated the defenders of Indarpat and then founded an independent Mohammedan dynasty in it, known among eastern historians as Delhi or “a slave of the Ghor Sultans” ... Since then, this unfortunate empire has been thrown from hand to hand like a ball. In 1288 the Khalji, a “tribe of adventurers” from Afghanistan (according to the same chronicle), stabbing the ruler of Delhi  Qaiqabad, handed the country over to their leader Jalal-ud-din and founded the Khilji dynasty, which lasted until 1321 and ended with the assassination of Sultan Murabak. Then the empire passed into the hands of Ghiyath-ud-din Tughluq, who founded the Tughlaq dynasty. Then Tamerlane broke into India and, having captured Delhi in 1398, marked his feat by slaughtering 100,000 captive Hindus. “The high towers were built from the heads of the slain and their bodies were given over to birds of prey,” says the historian. Having flashed an all-destructive thunderstorm across the entire horizon of India, Tamerlane immediately abandoned Delhi, consigning the country to oblivion. For 50 years in the city, where not a single living creature remained after his departure, only deathly silence reigned over – the silence of death and decay... Only in 1450, Behlul, the head of the Pathans (Afghan tribe Lodi), again took possession of the abandoned city and country. His grandson Ibrahim was defeated and killed at the battle of Panipat by the famous Sultan Babur, in 1526. Since then, the last dynasty of Babur, called the Padishah dynasty, established itself on the throne and the city was then renamed, in honour of its last founder, from Delhi to Shahjahanabad. But this ill-fated dynasty did not know peace either. Babur's son, Sultan Humayun, was defeated in 1540 and expelled from India by Sikandar Shah of Pashtun, and only thanks to the help of Persia he took back his kingdom in 1554. Only the Emperor Akbar, who managed to raise his Indian kingdom to the highest point of power by bringing forward at one time 4,400,000 soldiers, kept for himself and posterity the great empire of Delhi, which gave him 37,724,615 pounds sterling of annual income until 1707. From that time until 1803, that is, over a century, this unfortunate country was a theater of constant wars. Her great Moguls were subjected to all kinds of misfortunes. In turn, the Pathans and Sikkis, Nawabs, Marahats and Rajputs made raids, gouged out the eyes of the kings, burned them alive, and then captured, then again lost Delhi. Finally, the compassionate East India Company, taking pity on the unfortunate, wished to save this dynasty even against its will. With a selfless dedication unparalleled in history, General Lack set out in 1803 under the walls of Delhi. There, taking advantage of either the credulity or the oversight of a certain French adventurer Louis Bourquin, commander-in-chief of the Marathas army, with great impartiality he drowned in the Yamuna River both the French besieging the city, the Marathas and Pathans, and the moguls he defended, to whose help he allegedly came; and then, having conquered the city, he took it into his hands forever. Since then, the poor Baburians fared from bad to worse. The great dies irae[3] came for them and it lasted until 1857, when, due to the rebellion, the last of the nominal “great moguls,” Bahadur Muhammad, finally left the place of exile and imprisonment on the Earth ... to the higher heavenly spheres of his Prophet. So we at least hope the poor, demoted Mogul to be. He had suffered enough in order to receive at least this one of so many privileges promised to him.

Nothing can be compared with the charm of not only the cherished nooks and historical monuments of dilapidated Delhi, but in general of the surroundings and even the city rampart. These still formidable-looking walls, overshadowed by a thick fringe of acacias and date palms, eloquently remind the tourist of their former greatness and those glorious knightly times when the sentries of the invincible Sultans – Akbar and Aurangzeb walked on the fortified ramparts. In our days, there remains under the mournful shade of the dark salvadoras[4], only the scattered minarets of the tombs and the lonely monuments of the heroes gone to their eternal rest ... And for a long time we will not forget the dull, mysterious Qutb valley! Along this valley, stretching in an uninterrupted strip of seven miles [11.27 km] wide and more than thirty miles [48.28 km] in length, along the banks of the Yamuna, there the ruins of not one, but several ancient and modern cities are scattered. This is a whole epic made of granite and marble, an epic poem of the glorious past of countless generations of heroes! From the garden of Shahlimar, at the city gates, almost halfway to Agra, the entire valley is dotted with ruins of cyclopean buildings and crumbling buildings of a more modern era: once formidable fortresses of the Rajput kings; palaces, the marble walls of which are as if sculpted by the hands of fairies; tiled towers, granite bastions and buildings of strange and unknown shapes. Here you see vast tombs with gigantic gates and entrance arches, like temples, as if the five-million of the army of Xerxes buried all its deceased here with military honours; ruined obelisks, the remains of massive Pathan architecture; the surviving chambers of royal palaces (now converted into huts, free dwelling of pariahs[5]), the walls of which are built of bricks, all covered with precious enamel and the most charming mosaics; ancient gilded domes, from the cracks of which a forest of cacti has grown; pieces of walls that look like beautiful Venetian lace work, and ruins of ancient pagan temples dedicated to unknown gods, with altars, the painting of which hitherto still presents dazzling colors and freshness as if painted yesterday!.. At every step there is a new ruin; wherever you look – overturned walls, fallen statues, broken columns ... And amidst this wonderful, miraculous world of seemingly living ruins, deathly silence reigns day and night. What a wild scene of desolation! When we found ourselves in this area, it seemed to us as if we were in the fabulous kingdom of the “sleeping beauty...”

Not long ago, not more than a quarter of a century ago, this valley from the city to the very tower of the Qutab Minar (pronounced, however, Kutb Minar) 9 miles [14.48 km] from the nearest city gates was the abode of luxury, pleasure and power. It was still dotted with villas of wealthy nobles and courtiers of the Great Mogul. And now it has turned into an abode of complete decay, it is not for nothing that the people call it the Valley of Death. It is avoided by both the pedestrian and the rider: some tourists still risk stepping on the cursed soil. Its once magnificent palaces have tumbled down, its mosaic walls cracked and groaned, gasping for breath in the arms of a wild cactus. Only thanks to the tenacious branches of this plant, they have not yet completely collapsed, but they stand like martyrs condemned to death ... Here every emperor of the mighty dynasties of Pathans, Rajputs and Moguls has immortalized himself with some kind of monument. You can follow any direction you like for 25 miles [40.23 km] around and still not see the end of this extraordinary, miraculous world of ruins before you!..

For five days we were wandering around them. Leaving home at dawn, we had breakfast and dinner in the midst of this atmosphere of past centuries, returning only in the evening. With some sad, melancholy feeling, the heart contracts at the entrance to this desolate valley, the tomb of so many generations! Everything around is quiet, deathly, silent... Not the slightest sound is heard even from the distant city walls, where rise solemnly, among minarets and monuments, heavy English fortifications from every bastion of which stare nine cannons, like watchful eyes of the enemy. Occasionally something moves under your very feet, and the porcupine alarmed by the unusual human steps, raising his needles in all directions and snorting like a frightened cat, rolls away in a ball to the side; a flock of peacocks will fly by, darkening the road for a second and glittering with a shower of multi-colored sparks; the shy doe will look at you fearfully from behind a dark green aloe, and an agile lizard will slip in the grass, sparkling with its rainbow back in the sun. Not a single echo around. Only from time to time, in the midst of this heavy silence, there is a barely audible rustle, followed by a light knock of a pebble that seems to have come off: it is the hand of inexorable time incessantly producing destruction in the “Valley of Death,” tearing off brick by brick, stone by stone from the mosaic walls of ancient palaces: like large marble tears, they drop them at their foundation, red as scarlet blood. And they fall century after century, until, finally, both the palaces and the walls turn to dust...

Yes, the proud Delhi fell, but it fell like giants fall: like Sampson, fell a victim of treason and his own credulity. He fell asleep in the arms of Delilah, whom he had been tending and enriching for so many years and in whose honour he had the folly to believe. Therefore, true to its “historical mission,” the East India Company acted like a real Delilah. It not only indulged Delhi in its voluptuousness, but dragged him down the road to insane depravity. In the last years of its independent life, under the wing of its Delilah, Delhi outdid Ancient Rome in debauchery and effeminacy ... And now, taking advantage of its temporary weakness, Delilah has cut the hair of the helpless giant, and then, gouging out its eyes, gave it over to the Philistines. And how they seemed to love each other! What a tender friendship between England-Delilah and the handsome Indo-Mogul! To what extent the former flirted with the latter can be judged from the following example.

Colonel Skinner, the hero of the East India Company times, had a continuous residence for forty-five years in India. Having settled in Delhi, he immediately forgot all the difference between religions, became a real Muslim, married several wives and, having refused a small support for the construction of a Christian church, built at huge expenses, allegedly at his own expense, a rich mosque and then a temple for the Hindus. The construction of the church in Delhi, he writes in the report, “would justly offend the feeling of the Great Mogul and his people.” In addition, we were shown in Delhi about twenty mosques and pagan temples, in which there were rich bronze bells, silver idols and expensive chandeliers and icon lamps, and even altars with donators’ names. All these items to the last one were “gifts of thanks” and voluntary offerings as a result of vows “for deliverance from serious illnesses” and other hardships, offered by the English to idols and Mohammed!!. The donators' names are all European.

But now all that has changed. Hypocrisy is out of place now, and instead of festivities worthy of Lucullus and use of mere flattery, Albion-Delilah attacked Delhi, like all its neighbours, with its heavy foot – and the Muslim city suffocated. The Great Mogul has disappeared; all his pampered nobles also disappeared. Les apparences sont sauvées,[6] and nothing else is required. The Moguls did not know how to govern the people, just as the Nawabs did not, and as the now ill-fated Thebaw, the king of Burma,[7] does not. The philanthropy of England did not allow her – as it will never do – to see in cold blood how any people suffer under the oppression of the despotic rule. After all, she is the God-sent saviour of the Asian peoples, a friend of suffering humanity.

On the road leading to the Qutab valley, on an old monument, near the ancient fortress of Feroz Shah, I wrote with a pencil a famous verse by Dante, an inscription above the gates of hell, which is the best fit to the dull valley and the path leading to it...

Per me si va ne la cittá dolente,
Per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
Per me si va tra la perduta gente...[8]

We had barely gone a few steps when I turned around and saw before me the yellow mustache and rosy face of our noble spy, Captain L. He stood in front of the monument with the verse inscribed on it and scratched the back of his head being at a loss. Then he took out a pencil and paper and carefully copied my inscription: Dante will be read once more by Lord Lytton, and perhaps by Beaconsfield himself...

Some traveler put it this way about the tombs of Mohammedan nobles in India:

“If you want to get the right idea about them, then imagine the London Cathedral of St. Paul, turned into marble and transferred to a huge garden with all the notorious gates of old York, or a whole mass of domes covered with inlays of tiles, painted with wax paints of impossible and most brilliant metallic shades – green, blue, golden, bronze-violet ... And all this collection of domes on tall, graceful pilasters and arches, are virgin-beautiful and equally perfect, as on the day when they came out from under the sculptor's chisel...”

And such buildings literally dot the outskirts of Delhi! The work of these tombs is so delicate and fine that at sunset the marble walls seem as transparent as a lampshade...

After marveling at the “staff of Feroz Shah” (a huge pillar of red sandstone that, despite the fact that after falling down and sinking by two-thirds of its size into the ground, is still 37 feet [11.28 m] high and ten feet [3.05 m] in circumference at the pointed end), we went to the monument of Sultan Hamayun, which view so often appears on famous Delhi brooches. It stands on a 200-foot-square [18.58 sq m] marble platform, resting on all four sides on arcades to which three high flights of granite stairs lead. Each arch of the four arcades serves as a canopy for several tombs; and high above them rises the imperial mausoleum, a majestic building of red stone, lined with white marble. The style of architecture is purely Saracenic. Inside the mausoleum there is a round room, in the middle of which there is a marble sarcophagus. The flat roof of the monument offers a wonderful view for miles around; we brought a telescope with us and could see with it perfectly, without wasting precious time, the monument to Nizamuddin, a saint who lived a long life on cow dung and rests after death among precious marble and porphyry; the mausoleum of Princess Jahanara, a daughter of the unfortunate Shah Jahan (below a whole poetic legend relating to her and her monument is given), and the last luxurious dwelling of Safdar Jang, the grand vizier of the empire in the 18th century and the ancestor of the last ill-fated king of Oudh. Towns of mausoleums and sarcophagi of the most precious marble – that's all that remains of the once richest of the Muslim empires! “These monuments whitening in the distance,” one more outspoken English judge told me recently, “positively produce on me some kind of nervous, incomprehensible feeling of fear when I sit alone in the evenings on the balcony... Like an army of the dead in white shrouds, who came to demand an account of their descendants’ fate...”

At Chandni Chowk one can see the Imperial Palace, described by the Bishop Geber as one of the most imposing royal residences he had ever seen, “leaving far behind the Kremlin, but inferior to Windsor in some details.” What a naive national bragging! In our mind, i.e. in the opinion of even the English artists and the architect W***, this palace far surpasses all European palaces, ancient and modern, both in its special beauty and solidity. A single Gothic arch in the central courtyard of a large tower, an arch followed by a long, vaulted extension like one in Gothic cathedrals, delights connoisseurs. Arch comes after arch under the vault, likening this passage to a long tunnel rather than an extension ... In the very its center there is an open octagonal granite courtyard, each inch of which is covered with the finest inlays, similar to mosaic work, of flowers and fruits made of multi-colored marble and semi-precious stones. The Dewan-i-Khas (Hall of Imperial Council) is a white marble pavilion under domes of the same material, with arches and columns of the finest carving, and all covered with golden arabesques, flowers of mother-of-pearl, carnelian and malachite and inscriptions from the Koran in Persian letters of the most exquisite work. The rich foliage of pure silver that once adorned the ceiling has been taken by the conquerors, and the lovely pavilion is now home to owls and bats. In the same taste the octagonal pavilion in the middle of a neglected magnificent garden is decorated, as well as “Moti-Musjid” – the sister of another “Moti-Musjid” (Pearl Mosque) in Agra – the court chapel of the emperors; and even the “hall of audience,” the throne room of the Great Moguls, with a throne in the back, the mosaic of which is laid out in the form of a peacock's tail. This throne has only recently been cleared of the pigeon manure that thickly covered the throne seat...

Having passed by a beautiful mosque with a grove of minarets, peering into the clear waters of the river all day, we stopped near “The Jumma Musjid,” the Great Mosque. Its huge red sandstone foundation is a quadrangle, and the walls seem to be designed for a fortress. At each corner of this terrace there is a tower, the marble domes of which rest on thin red columns. On three sides, incredibly wide marble stairs lead to the three main gates. It's a whole trip up the mountain; the roofs of the entire city are under the feet of the tourist at the last step. As for the central, fourth gate, facing east, it is considered so sacred that it is not even allowed to approach them. These three gates lead into a courtyard, a 450-foot [41.81 sq m] square with open arcades, surrounded on three sides by colonnades of red columns and a large marble pool in the middle filled with water of several springs in the valley by a special mechanism. On the western side, facing east, that is, towards Mecca, there is a mosque – “Beauty of the East.” The entire facade is covered with thick slabs of white marble, and inscriptions are made along the cornice – verses from the Koran, in letters of black marble and gold, each four feet [1.22 m] long. Three huge white domes are lined with the same black marble, and the tall minarets are red and white. Each of the towers is a wonder of grace.

It was Friday, and besides, it was some kind of holiday, and the faithful crowded in the courtyard, which could accommodate 12,000 people. Our Hindus did not go with us, but stayed below with their friend, one of the innumerable Babu’s friends. We stayed in the mosque itself for only a few minutes, because, to the great affront of W***, he and the colonel were forced to take off their shoes and, according to their assurances, as a result of this walk on the cold marble slabs, both had a runny nose. The floor of the mosque itself is a kind of chessboard made of white and black tiles...

A few hundred paces from the city wall is an observatory, huge, like everything else. Like several other observatories and according to the same plan, it was built by the famous Rajah of Jaipur, Jay Singh, a learned astronomer and astrologer of the early 18th century, the very astrologer who, at the request of Emperor Muhammad Shah, revised the local calendar. In addition to the huge sundial, we found in this courtyard, which was as large as a city square, “azimuth circles,” as Gulab Singh introduced them to us, some amazingly shaped pillars for measuring the altitude and similar complicated instruments of astronomy. This entire courtyard is built up with curved walls, stone triangles with steps leading into empty space, strange geometric shapes made of granite “for local astrologers,” as we learned, and all this is covered with signs we do not understand, horrible gibberish, numbers, among which only the Thakur could feel at ease, but we, poor profanes, were completely embarrassed and went home with a headache...

“Qutab Minar,” a tower nine miles [14.48 km] from the city, is considered the tallest pillar in the world, even now when it has sunk deeply in the ground and its top has been struck off by lightning. This pillar, now 349 feet [106.38 m] high, is said to have served the court magicians for their friendly meetings with the “planetary” spirits according to local tradition. Indeed, judging by the height of the tower, it can be reliably assumed that these inhabitants of the elements often stumbled over it and tore their wings on its sharp merlons. Perhaps this is why they sent the lightning to crush the latter?.. From the foundation, the tower tapers off towards the top, where, – when the roof had not yet been smashed, – 12 magicians could find place, each with 12 volumes of “spells.” Its walls are covered with Kufic[9] inscriptions and gigantic letters carved several feet deep. Red from top to bottom, soaring high under the clouds, “Qutab Minar” seems from afar as a kind of monstrous, bloody exclamation mark placed over the “Valley of Death...”

Hundreds of pilasters, arches and columns huddle around the tower. Each of these fragments is in a different style and often not in the Muslim one, but in the taste of India, which alone proves their antiquity and duration of time passed between styles. A little aside at some distance stands under the dome a remarkable pyramidal, four-tier structure, spreading out like a mushroom with its wide terraces. This is the “collegium of Akbar,” famous for the extraordinary beauty of its carving and built by him for gatherings of “wise men” who were deliberately invited from all over the world for “religious disputes.”[10] This building opens onto its lower terrace, with walls covered with paintings, mosaics, bas-reliefs with inlays of all kinds, niches with bas-reliefs on a gold background and an endless row of geometric patterns and inscriptions, this building seems to serve as a magnificent entrance to the giant tower...

Five days passed as one day, and we left that evening for Agra, the ancient capital of Akbar. Saying goodbye, perhaps forever, to the Qutab Valley, we went to have a rest for the last time under the shadow of the giant tower. Nobody knows when, by whom and for what purpose exactly it was built. The black marble floors of the four balconies encircling it are covered with the same strange signs as the steps of its inner spiral staircase. Its four rooms – one in each tier – lead through a low door to the outer gallery, and there were hunters to climb it. But we gave up the idea of such a journey under the clouds: I did it for reasons that I will not mention out of self-respect, others – because of laziness or rather satiety. Indeed, we were all beginning to feel the signs of a disease that could be called “indigestion of ruins.” We began to have nightmares at night in the form of towers, palaces and temples; visions during which fleet-footed minarets chased us, and black marble sarcophagi danced the dance of death on us... But the Thakur went upstairs with Narayan Krishnarao, leaving us under the auspices of the latter's namesake, the Baba Narayan Dass-Sen, and the Babu immediately began to frighten Miss B*** with stories about ghosts and spirits visiting the Qutb Minar tower...

Probably our Maratha Hercules also saw something very terrible in the mysterious tower, because when both went down in half an hour, the Thakur seemed more serious and sterner than ever, and Narayan's dark cheeks became completely earthy and his lips trembled nervously.

“Look,” whispered the irrepressible Bengali to Miss B*** in an undertone, “I bet that the Thakur-sahib evoked one of his ancestors for Narayan ... the poor fellow does not look himself!”

Something deeply painful and at the same time ominous flashed in the black eyes of the Brahmin ... But he immediately lowered his eyes and, making a visible effort over himself, kept silence...

I wanted to step in and stop the Babu's inappropriate teasing at once, but the Thakur anticipated me. Without changing the conversation theme, he imperceptibly took our thoughts away from this delicate subject, giving them a completely different direction...

“You are right, Babu,” he replied thoughtfully, not paying the slightest attention to the obvious irony of the Bengali, “there is no locality in all of India than the tower more suitable for evoking the memory of the events of the great past of my Rajput ancestors!.. Here,” he continued, pointing to Delhi, “the generals and sovereign princes of Rajasthan were at the end of the 17th century for the last time deprived of the throne belonging to them by right, the property of their fathers ... Here fanatical, cruel Moguls, settling on the throne, won only by cunning, turned the last, bloody page in the history of the great independent India! Well!” he suddenly said while his eyes were sparkling like glowing coals, being in the state of hitherto restrained, but all the more terrible outburst of inner fury. “Well! It is the debauchery and the effeminacy of this accursed race that opened the door wide for the European conquerors!.. It is the Moguls, they alone, that ruined our India! If this generation of harems had not settled in our homeland, there would not have been a single Englishman in our land today!..”

W***, frowning and turning to the wall, seemed extremely busy looking at the Kufi inscriptions. But Miss B***, with a patriotic fervor worthy of a better cause, bristled like a cat, and at once rushed into battle.

“Oh-oh-oh!” said ironically the spinster, making use of all the tones of her discordant national tongue. “Hey, hey! Do you really mean by this that we would not have been able to cope even with you, Rajputs? We, the British, have never been defeated by anyone; and we have never once ceded the territory we have trampled!..”

I felt positively afraid for this silly woman! I never yet had occasion to see in human eyes something like that ominous, gloomy fire that kindled in the wide-open pupils of the proud Thakur. But he was silent and only was looking at her. This is how the Sphinx must have looked at its future victim – until the riddle was solved...

Fortunately, the colonel came to our rescue, making a diversion toward himself.

“Have you, the British, never been beaten?” He asked, chuckling good-naturedly. “You can add, besides by us, Americans... Remember what a sound thrashing we, the Yankees, gave you from 1775 to 1783, when we drove you from our shores forever... And then in 1812, when there were eight killed English soldiers for one American!..[11] Dear Miss B***, you should not forget the history even for the sake of patriotism.”

The colonel was not mistaken in his generous calculation. These simple words were enough to bring on him a storm, which ended, as always, in a stream of hysterical tears. The Englishwoman was becoming more unpleasant to us with every day...

More than once, the colonel, as president of the Theosophical Society, was going to earnestly ask her to return to Bombay, where, among the familiar and sympathetic sphere of wealthy grocers and haughty English ex-shoemakers, she would feel calmer and happier. But I always protested. No matter how unbearable her company was to us, since as Englishmen she and W*** were undoubtedly useful to us in view of the stupidest suspicions and spying upon us by the secret police. And this espionage, clumsy and rude, which they tried to keep secret but unable itself, was becoming more unbearable for us day by day. The presence of two Englishmen, and ardent patriots, moreover, among our circle could not only be useful later, but also exposed the Anglo-Indian government in its silliest light...

As usual, the Thakur, having escorted us to the railway, said goodbye and promised to meet us, perhaps in Agra, at all events at Bharatpur. We parted.

During our journey Narayan was unrecognizable and was, as it were, under the yoke of an unbearable burden or sadness. The Babu was spinning like a demon before matins; Mulji was silent as usual; W*** he was sulking for his compatriot, who was drying her fangs in the sun all the way; the colonel was snoring in the corner of the carriage; and I was thinking to the point of stupor ... What is happening between the Thakur and Narayan?.. What is the secret?... Who knows?!..

As at our entrance to Delhi, the sun was setting now, drowning in the molten gold of the clouds, and far on the horizon one can see the majestic “Qutab Minar,” already half-shrouded in dark purple night shadows; the top of the tower was still burning like a pillar of fire in the golden-orange glow of the setting sun...

Emperor Akbar, King Solomon of India, by his great wisdom, is the greatest as well as the beloved of the Mogul rulers of India and the only one whose memory is dear to both the Mohammedans and the Hindus. By the latter, he may be even more loved, as he was always partial to their cause. Akbar the Magnificent, Blessed, Akbar-Favourite of the gods and “the Beauty of the throne of the world,” these are the adjectives to his name. Among the natives, the city of Agra bears his name to this day and is called among the people Akbarabad. Akbar surpassed King Solomon in number of wives. Can 700 legal and 300 illegal spouses be compared to Akbar's 5,000 wives? The native chronicle assures that the Emperor owes his power to these ladies alone. Once deciding to take possession of all of India, the great Padishah, in order to doubly tie his allies to himself, married in turn the daughters of each of them. As soon as he found out that such and such a Rajah or a neighboring Prince had a daughter or daughters, he immediately sent an offer. And could such a groom like Emperor Akbar be refused? Thus, thanks to the army of allied fathers-in-law, he protected himself in advance from wars, and the state from invasions. All the wives were content and happy, and none of them was jealous. Each had her own room in the palace and her own special rights. Only ruins remained of this family palace.

Akbar was considered the fourth in the generation of the prophet Muhammad; therefore, much was forgiven by the faithful, although he sinned much against the faith. The Emperor especially insulted them with his doubts and eternal pursuit of truth: “as if all divine truth was not concentrated in our blessed Prophet!” said one of his historians. He had a passion for the study of philosophy and had a deep reverence for ancient manuscripts, assigning huge prizes to the oldest chronicles of the “six great faiths of the East”: Christian, Mohammedan, Jewish and the faith of Brahmins, Buddhists and Parsis. He respected all six and did not belong to any.[12] It is said that after his death there were found a great number of manuscripts written in his own hand, and what is even more astonishing, that they exist even today. Born in 1542, he died in 1605, having reigned for about half a century. I cannot remain silent about one strange story that was passed on to me – a legend, perhaps, or just a fictional fable. But since it is in close connection with the history of Russia, completely coincides with the dates of its most important historical events and mentions a well-known Russian princely family, I will tell it just as I heard it myself, without embellishments.

Like everyone in India, Akbar blindly believed in astrology and magic. During his youth as a prince he had once befriended some pale-faced young man who had somehow or other come to his palace. Then the young man disappeared, and no one but the prince knew who and where he was. But after Akbar's accession to the throne, he reappeared and completely captured the Emperor. No one knew his real name and whence the mysterious stranger came from both times, although at the court, where hundreds of foreigners and “wise men from the East, South and North” crowded, no one at first paid particular attention to the young man; but soon the envious began to look askance at him and undermine his royal favour. It was said that a young man, a despicable slave, a prisoner from the far North, was presented to Akbar by a Latin commander from Afghanistan. The intrigue against this stranger has at last reached the point that his life had become endangered. The Emperor became alarmed, and one fine morning the young man disappeared the second time as mysteriously as he had appeared. To impress his subjects and to warn them, Akbar pretended he did not know whither his favorite had vanished; he ordered the enemies of the youth to appear before him, and the same morning several heads fell. Twelve years later, the still young man again appeared at court and the old-time courtiers, in spite of the change, soon recognized as the missing young man. He had a manly, dignified look and was presented by the emperor himself to all the courtiers as a learned astrologer and guru, and the courtiers bowed before the stranger sincerely and with heartfelt trepidation, for the fame of the young astrologer preceded his appearance in Agra and he was spoken about in whispers and with restrained fear. “Pandit Vasishti Ajanubahu[13] studied the secret sciences – “jadu” and “yoga-vidya” (that is, black and white magic) from the jinn themselves in the depths of the Himalayas, near Badrinath, and the great Emperor himself chose him as his guru. Allah is great! The stranger possesses the ring of Suleiman (Solomon) himself, the Lord of all jinn (spirits). Believers, beware of offending the Pandit!”

The chronicle assures that Pandit Vasishti Ajanubahu stayed with Akbar until the latter's death, and then, although being himself already in very old age, he disappeared, no one knows where. Leaving, he seemed to have gathered his disciples and said to them the following significant words: “Vasishti Ajanubahu is leaving and will soon disappear from this decrepit body; but he will not die, but will appear in the body of another Ajanubahu, greater and more glorious, who will put an end to the Mogul domination.[14] Ajanubahu II will avenge Ajanubahu I, whose fatherland was humiliated and plundered by the hated sons of the false prophet.” Having said this blasphemous speech in the eyes of the disciples – the old sorcerer disappeared – “may his name be damned,” adds the Muslim author piously.[15]

I ask the reader to keep in mind both the phrase I underlined and the chronology of events. Our recent discovery may not mean anything, but coincidences and names are significant. In any case, it is of more than idle interest for Russian readers. There are as many legends about Pandit Vasishti as trees in the dense forest; but I chose only the one that was directly related to the case. That this Pandit was a Russian, taken prisoner by the Tatars as a boy during the victory of Ivan the Terrible in 1552 over the Golden Horde, at Kazan, seems to me now beyond doubt. As for the question: who exactly was this legendary “Pandit,” what he had in common with the princely Russian families, I leave it to be solved by readers themselves. Our story is yet to come, and the strangest of this strange story has not yet been told, although, of course, the name Ajanubahu[16] alone does not mean anything yet. This nickname is given here in general to all adherents of the “secret sciences.” Popular rumor assures that a person destined to become “the lord of the secret forces of nature” will be born with very long arms... I am returning to the story.

During the storming of Delhi in 1857-58, the English finally broke into the city and the following historical event took place: the city was taken, but the old king disappeared and could not be found anywhere. Finally, as always during such troubles, a Judas-traitor turned up among the Moguls. For a bag of gold and generous promises of forgiveness and a pension, the Crown Prince's father-in-law, Mirza Ilahe Bakhsh, with the help of a certain Rujab Ali, the “Munshi” (teacher), betrayed the Great Mogul into the hands of the adventurer Hodson, and with him the four princes of the Delhi house – the Shahzades. The king was found hidden where he would never have been discovered, and if not for this betrayal, he would have had time to go beyond the Himalayas. They found out that he had already managed to hand over a certain box of jewels and papers to the Princes, and Captain Hodson – whose name alone makes the English army blush with shame, which is uneasy to happen – rushed in pursuit of the princes. They were found hidden in the vicinity of Delhi in one of the secret hiding places of the “Valley of Death” tombs. It was difficult to take them alive, since all of them, with all the household members accompanying them, were preparing to blow themselves up, and Hodson wanted to get safe possession, if not the princes themselves, then the jewels they had with them. He therefore resorted to cunning, promising them on behalf of the Government forgiveness, the gift of life and complete pardon, he persuaded them to surrender, and they were taken to the city. One has only to read the War of the Sepoys by Sir John Kay (vol. II), an eyewitness to the events he describes, to find out in detail what happened next. After all his promises, the scoundrel, Hodson, ordered to stop the palanquin of the princes, and them themselves to get out and stand before him in the middle of the road, where he was waiting for them on horseback. Sensing betrayal, the princes got out alone, leaving one of the shield-bearers with a box and a small ancient silver chest by the palanquin. Then, pretending that he wanted to talk to them, Hodson began a conversation with them, and meanwhile his soldiers, at the agreed sign, cut the four princes and their retinue like rams. Then he rushed to the palanquin, but there was no longer a box of jewels, no chest, no man left there. During the scuffle and terrible massacre, the treasure-keeper sepoy disappeared and was never heard of again. What happened to the treasures – I cannot say. But of the chest with the papers, some traces of it were found. At least according to the stories, one of the scrolls of parchment is in the possession of a certain governor of the Northwest provinces. The manuscripts are written partly in Persian, partly in Hindi, and each paper bears its own seal of the emperor. These are notes, memoirs, documents, which as a whole make up a sort of notebook of Emperor Jelal-ud-din Akbar. I learned about their existence and the content of one of the parchments in the following curious manner. One of the members of our Theosophical Society, a close relative of the one who possesses the mysterious packet, wished to know from me whether the name and surname “Vasishti Ajanubakhu” was among the Russian princely families.

“No, I never heard of such a name,” said I. “We have a name Vasiliy, but not Vasishti, and I have never heard of “Ajanubahu.” What is this name? Ajanubahu, translated from Sanskrit, seems to be “long arms” (ajana – long, bahu – arms). Was that the nickname of Shivaji, the great leader of the Marathas and the founder of their kingdom? Is the story about him?”

“No, it is not” he said, “not really. Well, is there the name Longimanus in Russia?”

“No, there isn’t, but there is the Dolgorukiy[17], which is the literal translation of the Latin Longimanus and Sanskrit Ajanubahu.

“Well, we got it,” my interlocutor remarked to me, “now everything is clear to me...”

“And for me it became even darker!”

Then I learned from him the legend about Pandit Vasishta and Akbar and the episode near Delhi I just related. Akbar's notes had interested him for a long time. Well acquainted with languages, he studied the emperor's notes and, knowing about the legend of the astrologer Vasishta in Agra, he immediately realized that one of the notes in them concerns that mysterious stranger. To all my requests to show me the papers, he had to refuse me, since they are kept in a cache known to his owner alone, his elder brother. But he promised to translate Akbar's record word for word, which he copied for himself. He kept his word. Here it is, as it was written, according to the chronology of the Muslims, in 938 Hegira.

I am translating from an English translation made from scattered notes in Akbar's documents.

Note 1. “At the beginning of the full moon, the month of Morana, 935 (1557), a young Muscovite was brought from Ghazni by the Pathan Asaf Khan, from the “ulama”[18] (?). He was taken and enslaved in Kipchak-Khanat (Golden Horde) near the village of Kazan (?), in those days when the Sheitan, in the guise of the Moscow tsar, they say, defeated the khans ... The name of the young Muscovite in translation into our Hindu language (that is, Sanskrit) is Kos Vasishta Ajanubahu,[19] also Longimanus in the Portuguese language of the padres (missionaries). He is the son of a senior kosr (prince) killed in Kipchak-Khanat ... Vasishta says: “I know my language, the one of Moscow, and also the languages of Iran and Pathan.[20] I studied astrology and wisdom in Gilan (near the Caspian Sea). From there they took me back to Iran, where I served King Tahmasp. The Padishah got angry on account of a bad dream he had and gave me as a present to Asaf Khan. I want to learn the wisdom of the Sufis and Samans ... (probably Shramans or Shamans, Buddhists) ... and I want to get a shast (chain, but as a talisman) with the Great Name on it “...Let him study.” and a little further “Sent to Kashmir.”

Note 2. “He returned for meetings and received Allahu Akbar.[21] Vasishti found the Great Name “He”[22] and initiates the Sufis of the blessed Rabia.”[23]

And in 968 apparently the emperor himself added: “Great is Vasishta Ajanubahu! In his hands are the Moon and the Sun. He threw off the taqlid (collar) of deceiving religions and found the true wisdom of the Sufis, expressed in the following stanza:

“Both the lamp and its light are one,
Fools only see in the idol and his Brahmin
Two different subjects...”[24]

This is how these notes end. Who Vasishta Ajanubahu was will probably remain an unsolved problem forever. If he was one of the Dolgorukiy princes, taken prisoner by the Tatars under Ivan the Terrible, then should this event be mentioned somewhere in the annals of that family, if not in Russian history? But that he was Russian is proved to me by the fact that in one “strange line written in an unknown language,” as our friend put it, copied from the parchment, I saw and recognized the signature of “Prince Vasiliy”; it is inscribed in old letters and in awkward handwriting, as our great-grandfathers used to write three hundred years ago, and the signature is very unclear; but both the word knez and the name Vasiliy can be immediately recognized by every Russian.

Your secrets are amazing, oh, hoary silent antiquity! And the more we study it in India, the more firmly the irresistible conviction settles in me that both the Russians in particular and prehistoric Russia, Bulgaria and all the Slavic peoples in general are more closely connected with Aryavarta than history knows or modern Orientalists even suspect.

More than once I had to categorically declare in these pages that I have not the slightest desire to compete with learned ethnologists and philologists; but in spite of their authoritative conclusions, I still cannot refrain from contradicting them at every step, observing how their frequent apparently logical and brilliant conclusions outside India become weak and unlikely for those who study the country at the spot and take into account not only local legends, but also the harmonious combination of the latter from the most distant places of the country. I am fully aware that in this case I am acting in opposition to strict scientific principles and the method developed by the latest linguistics; I know that, perking up my ears at some phonetic similarities between languages, besides any other considerations, I sin against the basic rules of etymology established by strict linguists and resignedly accepted in Europe by the followers of their schools. Professor Max Müller has every right to look at me with contemptuous derision and even call my opinion a “wild one,” and the theory unwissenschaftlich[25]; and yet, in spite of this cruel lesson (incidentally, happily experienced by me), every time I happen to be present at our conversations with the Pandits in Sanskrit or hear from our respected friend and ally Swami Dayananda[26] a frequent appeal to his disciple: “Dehi me agni,” that is, “Dai mne ognya,”[27] then in the unlearned simplicity of my spirit I cannot help exclaiming: Yes, this sounds quite Russian! Allowing myself to paraphrase our popular proverb: “Simply living – hundred years of life is giving,”[28] I immediately apply it to the case and replace the word “living” with the word “conceiving” (“thinking”). And it seems to me at such moments that it is incomparably higher than all the expressions of learned linguists of this world (from the point of simple common sense) a Russian relative of mine,[29] a smart, educated and very observant lady, although she does not speak Sanskrit, recently sent me the following remark in her letter: “You, my mother, stand for the Brahmanical Trimurti and consider the innermost meaning and the beginning of it for how long you want; but that your Trimurti in the Russian translation is just “tri mordi”[30], so it is beyond doubt.” And she is absolutely right, since the word murti in Sanskrit means a face and an idol; and Trimurti is literally three faces, a triple image of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Therefore, I cannot even agree with the great Max Müller himself and immediately believe him that “the percentage of purely Sanskrit words in the German language is much higher than in Slavic and Russian.” Nevertheless, since in childhood we were forced to conjugate the German verb geben [to give], we feel, apart from any philology, that the imperative mood “gib mir Feuer” is as much reminiscent of “dehi me agni” as the venerable professor himself in his tailcoat would resemble the Tibetan Dalai Lama without any tailcoat. The newest encyclopedias according to the authority of “linguists” assure us that the Georgian language is full of purely Sanskrit grammatical forms, and Russian is full of Scandinavian, Tatar, Finnish and other non-Slavic roots. But the question is: wasn’t the Russian language filled with these “non-Slavic roots” already in the later periods of its development and only because these “non-Slavic roots” of the languages of Scandinavian, Tatar, Finnish, etc. (apologizing in advance for the ignorant hypothesis to “Turanophilists” and “Philosemits”) were only dialects or, as Professor Max Müller puts it, primitive derivations of Sanskrit, if not in its completely finished, perfect form, then at least as the primitive language of two thirds of mankind, – so this issue was hardly ever not only resolved, but even touched upon by “linguists”. We should not forget the significant fact that in Russia there are absolutely no monuments or inscriptions that could indicate to us the consistent development of the Russian language.

But all this is my personal opinion and it does not concern the readers. Therefore, for the time being I will leave this issue aside and deal with the real India in its present state.

Agra, like other cities, was built on the graves of many of its predecessors. Its present appearance is the most deplorable, with the exception of historical magnificent buildings and monuments, mostly Mogul. Dirt, stench and, judging by the appearance of the houses, a terrible state of poverty prevails in the Muslim neighbourhoods. The Hindus "turkisified"[31] and lost all their originality here. Agra is the threshold to Rajasthan, a kind of a lackey room, in which the “gentlemen” do not live, but through which they only accidentally pass. The English, as in all other cities, separated by the Chinese wall of pride and barracks from the natives, live completely apart. They have their own neighbourhood, where not a single “negro” dares to settle, far from the Yamuna and the Taj Mahal, which stands not far from the Moti Masjid, popularly known under the poetic name of “Pearl Mosque.” Indeed, both the Masjid and the Taj can literally and without any eastern metaphor be compared with pearls on a dung heap...

But what a precious pearl is the Taj Mahal! Having exhausted all streams of eloquence describing Delhi, I now have to describe this eighth wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal, and I feel completely unable to fulfill such a task. If it were possible to evoke from the mysterious area – about the existence of which we are taught by alchemists and kabbalists – the flashing images of the most poetic dreams of Michelangelo, then those who perhaps have never seen the Taj would actually have time to create an image suitable for it. They would imagine this majestic mausoleum as huge, as a Gothic cathedral with a top like a precious royal crown: its four pearl-white domes at the corners of a square, among which, towering 50 feet [15.24 m] above them, sparkles a central dome, crowned with two golden balls and a golden crescent[32] and shining like a pearl against the tender blue of the sky ... Far from any other building, surrounded by the most charming garden, the Taj Mahal stands alone in its inexpressible beauty on the banks of the blue Yamuna, reflecting its pure, proud appearance ... This building is so perfect in its architectural dimensions, charming and complete in the work of the smallest details, and at the same time majestic in its simplicity that you do not know what to be more surprised at – the plan, the work or the materials of which it is made!

This material is the most expensive white marble, occasionally intermixed with black and yellow marble, mother of pearl, mosaic, jasper, agate, emeralds, aquamarine, pearls and hundreds of other stones. But white marble prevails. In the whole building, from the top of the dome to the last vershok of the foundation, there is not a single nail, not an atom of glass or any wood. Even the waterpipes are marble; and the walls are so polished that, reflecting the elusive shadows of heaven and greenery on their shiny surface, they resemble the purest mother of pearl rather than marble. We could hardly believe that the Taj was the work of mortals, and were quite ready to swallow the local legend assuring the faithful that the inconsolable Caliph was raised during his sleep by a certain holy dervish to the heavenly abode of Mahomet, where Allah himself commanded the Archangel Gabriel to make for him a plan of one of their abodes. According to this plan, the Taj Mahal was built over the body of his beloved Mumtaz, known as Arjumand Banu – “the Crown of the Seraglio”[33]...

When approaching from the direction of the Yamuna, the first object that catches your eye is a massive quadrangle of dazzling white marble 964 feet [293.83 m] from east to west and 229 feet [69.8 m] from south to north. That platform is a pedestal, truly worthy of such a monument. The very bottom of it is made of red sandstone, but almost lost in the greenery of the bushes. On each side of it, there is a mosque, also made of sandstone, with overlaid patterns of black and white marble and three white domes on each. But these mosques do not seem to belong to the monument, but look more like two sentries standing on guard. On the first platform and on the terrace, 400 feet each side [37.16 sq m] and 60 feet [18.29 m] high, also of white marble, stands the mausoleum; at its four corners, shining in the sun like four ice towers, stand tall, unusually graceful minarets, 150 feet [45.72 m] high, each of the same material and under the same domes. The imperial mausoleum with sarcophagi inside stands on the north side of the quadrangle. A magnificent vaulted gate leads to the main building, the red walls of which are entirely covered with sayings from the Koran, overlaid with black marble; there is a garden, divided into quadrangular squares with fountains in marble pools, surrounded by parterres of the rarest flowers, the garden is full of age-old cypresses, the dark green of which is in perfect harmony with the general appearance of the white building. Directly in front of the entrance, a long, shady alley ends in a wide marble staircase of two flights, leading to the upper platform, the floor of which consists of huge white marble slabs, surrounded by a mourning border of black marble.

Ascending to the upper platform, forty steps away from you, you see the mausoleum itself, and you just freeze ... You feel as if being in a dream: as if a vision suddenly appeared before your eyes from another, better, purer world, and you are trying to come to your senses, to assure yourself, that you are in reality and that before you is reality, and not the fantasy of your imagination, a dream from “The Arabic Nights!” I have seen the cathedrals of St. Peter in Rome, and those of Cologne, and Strasbourg; I was satiated with looking at all the best works of famous Italian artists. But never a single monument, not a single statue, not a painting or any temple made such an impression on me as this building, conceived by the Moslems, whom I do not particularly like, and constructed by who knows who. It is said that for 22 years, 20,000 artisans worked continuously constructing this mausoleum and that, apart from free workers and material, it was worth three million pounds sterling. Simson, a reporter for the London Illustrated News, a painter, architect and archaeologist, returning from Kabul to England last year, told me that he would not have undertaken to build such a monument for all the treasures of Golconda. “There are no such performers anymore in our cold, all-denying century,” reasoned the modern artist. “For polishing this marble block alone, Phidias and Benvenuto Cellini would be required with Michelangelo to help them!” This opinion is not exaggerated at all.

Before you there is the marble facade of a temple majestic in its graceful simplicity. The walls are completely white and smooth. Only under the arch, above the wide portico, can you see intricate, transparent stone lace, ornaments made of the same material, representing flowers, fruits and arabesques; and over the cornice of the dome and along the side walls, sayings from the Koran in huge golden letters stretch as a narrow border. From the portico, the entrance leads directly into the interior of the huge hall in the mausoleum, surrounded by corridors and annexes. Everywhere the same dazzling whiteness of the walls with panels covered with mosaics – garlands of the most charming flowers of precious stones. Some of them are so natural, the artist copied nature so faithfully that the hand involuntarily approaches them, as if wishing to make sure that this is a work of art alone. Branches of white mother-of-pearl jasmine intertwine with a red pomegranate carnelian flower and delicate tendrils of vines and honeysuckle; and delicate oleanders peep out of the lush green foliage. All this is laid out on white marble not by the microscopic mosaic of the Florentines, but by the eastern mosaic of India, that is, by pieces of such a size and shape that they do not spoil the integrity of the precious stone. Each leaf, each petal is a separate emerald, amethyst, pearl or topaz; and sometimes you count up to a hundred such stones for one branch of flowers, and there are hundreds of similar stones on panels and lattices! A mysterious twilight reigned in this abode of death, and at first glance we did not discern how many treasures were buried together with the royal couple. But that torches lit up the hall and suddenly millions of precious sparks flashed from the precious stones, causing involuntary cries of surprise from us.

The domed ceiling, illuminated by daylight from lattice lancet windows, carved in solid marble walls, is densely covered with the same flowers and fruits from multi-colored stones; only, instead of a smooth surface, the mosaic is laid out on marble decorations in relief, so that from a distance it really looks like a flowering arbour made of living plants rather than cold stone. Once having seen the Taj, tourists are ready to read without a smile an eloquent review of a certain devout local historian, who ends his description of the mausoleum with the following naive statement:

“There is no doubt that the plan of this pearl of the East, which we, Muslims of India, are so justly proud of, was from the very beginning intended by the great Prophet in order to instil in the faithful the correct concept of the blessed paradise abodes.”

Directly under the vault of the dome there are two cenotaphs, surrounded by a cut-through marble lattice, like all the others, six feet [1.83 m] high, lined from top to bottom in patterns of the same precious flowers and with a border resembling the lily flowers. The carved work is so fine and delicate that, despite the thickness of the lattice (several inches), it is a perfect semblance of lace. The tombs, of which there are four, although only two of them contain the bodies of the couple[34] (the beautiful Mumtaz Mahal and her husband, Caliph Shah Jahan, faithful until and after death), are each made of a piece of solid white marble. The two cenotaphs in the upper room are examples of graceful simplicity are in striking contrast to the jeweled lattice. From the portico we went down the wide steps into the burial hall, where two other sarcophagi stand side by side. The tomb of the empress is replete with arabesques, mosaics, precious stones and verses from the Koran. The Caliph's tomb is slightly higher than the former, but simpler. As well as the upper ones, both sarcophagi are enclosed with wonderful lattice work, but without mosaics. The ceiling is vaulted, like the upper one, but without decorations, and the hall is octagonal. Day and night, silver and gold lamps illuminate this dark room, and on Fridays, the faithful receive abundant offerings to their “caliph,” offerings that, of course, fall into the mullah's pocket, since the Government takes care of the repair and preservation of the mausoleum.

Having examined the entire mausoleum, we climbed the twisted staircase to the northern minaret and stayed there for two hours, resting. It was impossible to tear ourselves away from this wonderful view. From the minarets, the surroundings of Agra for miles around spread before our eyes. The great monuments of the Timur dynasty – fortresses, palaces, mosques, towers – are scattered on both banks of the twisting silver ribbon of the Yamuna ... The city from this height loses its dirty look and sinks into the greenery of bushes and trees. It would be absurd to describe anything in Agra after the Taj. The Moti-Masjid – “Pearl Mosque,” whose beauty is so admired, is charming, perhaps, and wonderful as an architectural work, but it held the attention only those who have not seen the mausoleum. Columns, domes and white marble blocks, erected on platforms of red sandstone – this is a description in a nutshell of the palaces and other mosques of Agra.

Taking up residence a stone's throw from the Taj Mahal, we visited it every day, and we can say that we made our living room and reception room out of a shady cool garden, sitting there, listening to local legends and breathing more freely than in the stuffy dark-bungalow,[35] erected by the government in one of the ancient mausoleums and mosques near the Taj's gate. In the same mosque, above the burial hall, the English arranged “with very dubious delicacy and tact,” as Gordon-Kemming put it, “a picnic dance hall”!!

“Imagine what the feelings of us Christians would be like,” the author adds, “if the New Zealanders who conquered us decided to dance their war dance in our mausoleums, or rather, in our very unromantic cemetery chapels!”

Refraining from commenting myself, I deliberately cite this criticism of their own compatriot, in order to show the English that not only Russians, in each of whom they fancy a spy, notice, exposing to the judgment of light, their disgusting selfishness and indelicacy to the feelings of enslaved nations. Not Russia, but they themselves incur the just hatred of the Asian peoples with such dangerous antics.

They say that after the death of his much-loved Mumtaz, the idol of his soul, the poor caliph fell into a deep melancholy. But then a holy dervish appeared and directed his thoughts to the construction for the deceased such a monument that would surprise the whole world, promising him the protection of the Prophet for this. The dervish kept his word. According to the original plan, the caliph was preparing to build for himself a completely similar mausoleum on the opposite bank of the Yamuna, connecting both monuments with a white marble bridge. But long before the end of the Taj, the emperor fell ill and found himself on the threshold of death. Then his four sons, the children of Mumtaz, without waiting for his death, started a war for the throne. Aurangzeb remained the winner in this respectful filial tournament and locked both the three brothers and his own son in the Gwalior Fortress – a kind of the Bastille in India, where the closest relatives of the Mogul caliphs often ended up. And he imprisoned his father – poor, widowed Shah Jahan – in the old fortress of Agra, where the deposed emperor lived for seven years and where he died, consoling himself only by the fact that he constantly looked out of the window at the mausoleum of the beloved of his life grieving only about the termination of the work... At his imprisonment, however, he should have looked at as something very natural. No other emperor, with the exception of Akbar, seized the Mogul throne without bloodshed and imprisoning all the pretenders in an eternal prison. Shah Jahan himself ascended the throne only by stepping over the corpse of his brother, whom he sadly had to slaughter with his own hands, for such is the kismet[36]; his father, Jahangir, son of Akbar, impaled at least 800 relatives from Timur's House, before he could quietly seat himself on the parental throne…

Upon the death of the prisoner-father, Aurangzeb, as a true Muslim and respectful son, gave every honor to the father who could no longer be dangerous to him. He buried him near “the Crown of the Seraglio” and finished the mausoleum construction with the money of some of the rich nobles murdered for the occasion. He even surpassed his father in extravagance: in front of the real gates to the garden, he erected other gates of pure silver with whole chapters of the Koran engraved on them and decorated like the goblet of Benvenuto Cellini. The chronicles of the Portuguese missionaries from Goa, in their descriptions of these gates, say they were built by the devil himself, having finished them in one night; but in this the pious fathers, perhaps, are mistaken... Also, by the order of the emperor, an internal small gate, now disappeared, was made of a single slab of agate, it was of such beauty and value that, according to the same truthful historians, “it came from the factories of the underworld”. But if so, then the fate of these two gems only served to justify the proverb that “the devil makes no presents, but only lends.” Barely a quarter of a century later, the triumphant Marathas took away the gates and melted them down for rupees, and from the wicket they made a screen for Shiva in the temple of the Gwalior Maharaja. Where the wicket has gone – now no one knows. It is believed that it, in its turn, was taken away by the Maharaja of Bhurtpore and buried somewhere in the magical gardens of Deeg. But he died suddenly, and the secret of the whereabouts of the wicket died with him.

Until now, dark rumors about the “mysterious” (even more than the obvious one) power of Akbar are circulating among the people in Agra. The emperor was not only a great statesman and military leader, but also initiated into the dark science of necromancy and magic. Dying, he predicted that the greatness of his family would fall in the fourth generation from him in the person of his great-grandson, and he promised to appear before the reigning emperor ... and kept his word. This is how it happened.

The Great Caliph appeared to Aurangzeb “the Magnificent” in the famous Agra fortress, which he himself built, known as the Akbar Fort. That was in the 1680s. “The Magnificent” was sitting one fine morning on the throne in the “audience hall,” where once upon a time sat his ancestor, judging cases of right and wrong with no regard to any canon of laws. History is silent about what mood he was in and what condition all his courtiers were in. It is most likely that, like another faithful Khan, the Caliph “sat with downcast eyes, and smoking his pipe”[37]...

Over the past decade, the Moguls had beeen constantly and badly beaten by the Marathas, and the poor faithful were very upset about this, especially since the Marathas acted under the leadership of the invincible Shivaji, the Dekkan Ilya Muromets.[38] Ajanubah II, according to the prophecy of the Pandit Vasishti, threatened to seize by his “long arms” all the states of India that had been conquered by the emperor[39] and to avenge the homeland of Ajanubakh I. Suddenly Aurangzeb (literally “the beauty of the throne”) trembled like an aspen leaf, and, jumping up, silently and with eyes full of horror, turned courtiers’ attention to a corner. The courtiers could see nothing, but they all heard a loud voice, sounding like that of an old man, utter the words: “woe ... woe to the great House of Timur! The end of its greatness has come!” The emperor fell senseless. He swore that he saw the shadow of his ancestor Akbar, who repeated this terrible prophecy, which, according to legend, he had already uttered on his deathbed...

From that time on, all went awry in the kingdom and it eventually fell to pieces. Aurangzeb died in 1707, and with the “beauty of the throne” all the greatness of his dynasty disappeared.

At first, we did not believe this story, but after visiting the “audience hall” and seeing the very corner in which Akbar appeared to his great-grandson, we were forced to surrender before the evidence of the facts. In the city of Agra, in the Akbar fortress, there was an armory, which the sepoys used in 1857 in order to slaughter the English. Now the armory was moved to the “audience hall” and the latter made into a fortress within the fortress, keeping the weapons under 77 locks. In my humble opinion, the English should behave themselves and it would be better if they did not dance on the mausoleums of the caliphs, which would be the strongest precaution.

The fortress stretches for a mile [1.61 km] along the river bank and its walls, 85 feet [25.91 m] high and extremely thick, are capable of instilling fear in the souls besieging it ... but only those who would have come without the latest advanced artillery. With the help of the latter, this citadel, although strengthened even more over the last twenty years, would also have been unable to withstand an assault, as in 1803, when Lord Lack with a small number of ancient cannons forced the surrender of 6000 Marathas who had settled in it on the first day of the siege.

Among the treasures of the “armory,” where, however, we were not allowed this time, there are two halves of magnificent carved gates 12 feet [3.66 m] in height with the richest mosaic layout and decorated with coats of arms of pure silver. With these gates, which have their own history, an extraordinary metamorphosis that has not yet been solved by anyone took place. They were made of sandalwood and, filled the surroundings with a delightful fragrance and once was, according to history, a part of the decoration of the great Brahmin pagoda Somnath; but in 997 they were carried away from there by the Afghan sultan Mahmud, who that year destroyed the entire Gujarat with fire and sword to punish the pagans and at the same time reward himself with booty. These sandal gates were considered a chef d'oeuvre[40] of native carving; they were so precious and revered by the peoples of India that Mahmud ordered them to be transported at great expense to Ghazni, where they were subsequently honored by placing them at the entrance to the mausoleum of the Sultan himself. The presence of such a sacred object in the eyes of Hindus in a Muslim cemetery, intended to remind the people of the supreme power of the Moguls, was like a thorn in the Brahmins’ side. Many times they tried to take it away by force, or else to steal the sacred gates, but all was in vain. They have already cost many lives and nevertheless remained in the same place. Thus 800 years passed when Lord Ellenborough, having emerged victorious in Ghazni, saw the famous bone of contention. Hearing the history of the gates, he wanted, in his turn, to show the Moguls that they were no longer masters in India, but the British, and for this purpose he ordered to transport them to Agra. This transportation was accomplished with great difficulty and cost a lot of money and curses on the part of the English soldiers. But the Indians were triumphant.

“The gates of Samnath Temple have become doubly historical,” says the Agra Landmarks Guide, “they serve as a monument to Lord Ellenborough's victory and proclamation at the end of the Kabul War, and at the same time constitute another rare work of art added by us (that is, the British) to so many others treasures.”

But now, following the other visitors who gasped with admiration at seeing the gates, appears Mr. Simson, mentioned above, a neat and very perspicacious Scotsman. Having examined them critically, to the great horror of the English, he suddenly positively announces that the gates have been replaced!.. On the gates taken by Sultan Mahmud, according to all ancient descriptions, almost all 33 million gods of India were represented: however on these, the carvings are purely in Muslim style ... Great excitement followed; everyone rushed about, not knowing what to do and, finally, an order is received from Calcutta to examine them through a microscope. Alas! The latest analysis proves in the most positive way that these gates, delivered at such a cost, that people came to look at from distant lands, were not even sandal, but just pine! Had this discovery happened a few years later, one could bet that the English press would have accused Russia of stealing! Now the poor gates stand in the corner, dusty and forgotten.

The “Great Temple” of Samnath, the Indian Osiris, the god, at whose judgment the souls of the dead come and on whom their future image depends on the law of metempsychosis, is one of the largest and richest in India. It is located in Gujarat, on the shores of the Indian Ocean. At the time of Mahmud, this pagoda had 2,000 priests, 500 dancers (nautch girls), 300 sacred flute players and 300 barbers. Having learned about its wealth, the Sultan decided to look into it and share the spoils with God. Entering the temple, he saw himself in a spacious vaulted hall supported by 56 silver columns and with golden gods on the walls. Ordering the soldiers to put the gods in the train, Mahmud went up to the great idol of Samnath and, without talking, knocked off his nose. Then the Brahmins fell at his feet and prayed for mercy on their great deity, offering him such a huge amount of money for mercy that his vizier advised him to accept the offer. But the Sultan was a strict Mohammedan and rejected the offer, for which he was rewarded by the Prophet. When Samnath was smashed into pieces, an innumerable treasure was found inside it, consisting of pearls and diamonds, in an amount ten times more than what the Brahmins offered. Thus virtue was once more triumphant on the earth.

The very palace, where Shah Jahan was imprisoned, is already in ruins, but from it we went to the zenana (harem) through the courtyard, where Tavernier saw a bath 40 feet long and 25 wide [12.19 × 7.62 m], made of gray marble. All the walls of countless rooms are covered with thousands of convex mirrors in the Persian manner; and here again everything is made of white marble – roofs, columns, pillars, walls ... Some lovely pavilions are like lace stars on their red pedestals, surrounded by cut-through balconies covered with climbing plants. All these wonders of architecture, where people lived, loved and suffered, are now empty, abandoned and as if fell in a deep sleep... Only green parrots interrupt the solemn silence of this uninhabited part of the fortress, awakening a lazy echo; and blue-winged birds make nests in the recess of the panels, each separate piece is a marvel of carving. At night, in the moonlight, this place presents something magical. As if Voevoda Moroz[41] flew over the kingdom of the sleeping princess and covered all the buildings with patterned frost... This magical workmanship is more like a miniature ivory carving than anything familiar to us in the works of European marble carvers.

Right there, in the fortress, behind the wall of the Taj Mahal, there is the “Moti Musjid,” a mosque built by Shah Jahan during his seven-year imprisonment. Rather than something else the mausoleum prevented us from doing justice to the “Pearl Mosque.” But it is truly a most precious pearl among all the mosques. Perfect in architectural form, surrounded by a highly poetic atmosphere, white like newly fallen snow, without the slightest admixture of a different color, it also attracts attention and deserves the sympathy of visitors due to its sad legend. It is said that the idea to build this lovely mosque belongs to Jahanara, the beloved daughter of the imprisoned Sultan. Seeing her father's suffering and his inconsolable sadness, the princess, who insisted on sharing his imprisonment, invented and persuaded him to undertake this work, which alone could, in her opinion, dispel his melancholy. They assure that, agreeing, the deposed Sultan exclaimed in his deep heart sorrow: “May it be your way, my daughter, and may the future holy mosque be called “Pearl...” For, like a real pearl, owing its embryo, development and beauty inside the shell to the sufferings and torments of the dweller, so may Moti Musjid owe her existence to the inconsolable grief experienced by the unfortunate father of the cruel Aurangzeb!” Thus did his dream, a child of bitter hours of seclusion, suddenly appeared at the foot of the Taj Mahal, like a frozen tear of the “Angel of Destiny” who is obliged to write all earthly sorrow and suffering into the book of repentance.

Later we saw in Delhi the last abode, the tomb of the devoted daughter of the Sultan – Jahanara: outside it is a proud white marble sarcophagus with sculptural decorations and mosaics, like all others; but inside the mausoleum there is a green garden with an unpretentious simple flowerbed, which are watered daily and with the greatest care by an old hunched Mogul, a half-wit who has lost his mind after experiencing the horrors of Delhi. A living ruin among dead ruins, this old man – the embodiment of unchanging love and devotion to the dying House of the Padishahs – is the only and last descendant of a long line of trusted servants of the Sultans, who escaped a common fate only due to his decrepitude and insignificance. He is about a hundred years old. Trembling and staggering on bony legs, he led us inside, pointing out on the wall of the burial hall an epitaph composed by Jahanara herself before her early death and carved on her tomb, according to her wish. The princess asks that only flowers and grass indicate the place where her ashes will lie ... “Let only flowers, plucked by the hand of Allah, mix with the remains of a mortal pilgrim – Jahanara ... They are the best decoration of the last abode of a spirit freed from the earthly shackles...”[42] – says the inscription, by the way. We gave several coins to the Mogul Koschei[43] and, faithful to the grave servant, hiding them in the tall grass and stroking the marble of the sarcophagus with his trembling hand, immediately began to whisper, as if addressing the deceased herself: “I will buy you, Begum Khanum, new flowers... I will plant fresh roses for you instead of the dead, withered ones!” In the Taj Mahal, during the annoying begging of the mullah, growing fatter and richer by the hour, who did not let us go, asking for his Caliph “one more, only one more rupee,” I remembered this scene. Poor, decrepit Koschei, whose entire dying life was focused on the grave of the princess who died two centuries before, just because she was the great-grandmother of his beloved murdered masters, appeared before me as the last manifestation in our century of ardent devotion to our “minor brothers...”

In this spacious fortress, in the harem, at every step you come across walled up rooms, hiding places and underground passages, sealed up centuries ago and accidentally found by the English. How many bloody, terrible scenes took place inside this fortress! How many victims, long sufferings and fatal, forever buried secrets! English soldiers are said to be here in a state of chronic superstitious fear, despite the severe punishments. As a sergeant, an Irishman, put it in a conversation with W*** – “who likes to spend the night after night among the pagans from the other world ... who died unbaptized and who made friends with “old Harry” (devil). Even the blessed St. Patrick will not help!” After passing a long row of corridors, we were shown the place where English engineers, having broken through a blank wall, found a cell located above the river; in the cell there are three broad grinning skeletons – a young man and two women, one old and the other young. The latter was richly dressed and covered with precious stones. Here they were walled up, leaving them to die of starvation; as if out of a desire to bring their death throes to a nec plus ultra[44] of refined cruelty, in the middle of the room there was a deep well mouth, with bubbling water below, sealed with a thick iron grating... In one of the underground passages an almost bottomless abyss was found, across the mouth of which a thick log was fixed. On this log, like bunches of dry grass, about a dozen female skeletons hung by a rope! How many such young lives fell from this log into the terrible black abyss, no one knows, except perhaps the Angel of Death. But Azrael does not betray his secrets, especially to us, the unfaithful, for, at the request of Mohammed, he no longer appears in a visible guise...[45] Thus, the harem life seems extremely attractive, and we can only envy happy Zuleikas[46].

In another quarter of Agra, workers digging a pool in the garden recently have found traces of a vast palace and finally a passage to one of the underground rooms known as tikhana (cool rest), where the owners spend the hottest hours of the day. Here a double wall attracted the workers’ attention; they broke through it and found in it a narrow corridor, where five skeletons in magnificent robes stood chained to the wall. Three of them, as they say, apparently belonged to the highest nobility: a young man and on both sides two women with long black braids. Their dresses and veils were embroidered in gold; gold bracelets on the arms and ankles, and on the necks precious chains, strings of pearls and necklaces with talismans. The latter, as you can see, proved their miraculous power to prevent harm... All these jewels were sold by the government for two thousand pounds sterling. The other two skeletons belonged to old women, probably servants.

Nine miles [14.48 km] from the city gates, in a clearing of the garden in the village of Sikandra, the great Akbar himself is buried. His mausoleum is a miniature second edition of the fortress itself. It occupies forty desyatins [43.6 hectares, 107,6 acres] of land, and is situated in a garden, or rather in a fenced-in park several miles of area. The mausoleum is a four-tiered pyramid gradually narrowing upward, with ordinary minarets topped with domes rising at the corners. All domes are covered with mosaic tiles – green and blue with gold. It is inconceivable that neither the colours nor the laid on decoration have changed a single half-shade during the whole three centuries in a climate where dampness and heat ruin the most durable works of European masters in one year.

On the sarcophagus ninety-nine qualities of Allah are inlayed with gold Persian letters. Around the lower terrace of the mausoleum on three sides there is a colonnade with countless arches and columns covered, like a vellum page, with sayings from the Koran and later with curses to the unfaithful laid out in black marble. In each embrasure between the columns there is a window, also so common in Indian architecture, like stone lace. As the sister of Gordon-Cumming, the Scottish Nimrod of modern England, quite rightly puts it, this marble lacework begins to seem in the end to be the most common thing. “And yet,” she adds, “if we could only move one of those windows to any Christian cathedral, how many exclamations of delight and surprise it would cause among experts! But here in India, this is only the work of these despicable negroes, and our true Briton does not even bother to look at it!”

This is the opinion of an Englishwoman and a patriot.

Next morning we departed Agra quite early; so early that the dawn did not even have time to cast its rose light over the snow-white Taj Mahal! We had to make twenty-four miles [38.62 km] before breakfast prepared for us in Futhepur Sikri – the most famous ruins of the northwestern provinces, where our friend and patron, the Thakur, was waiting for us... Gulab Lal Singh did not turn up in Agra – a place that for some reason he hated, although he half-promised to meet us there. But we have long been accustomed to his peculiar actions, to his unexpected appearances and similar disappearances, and we have never asked him about anything.

This morning we left purely English territory and entered the classical land of Rajasthan – although not completely free and independent, but a country with which the English have to reckon. In Bhurtpore, for example, a native possession that borders Agra, there is neither a political resident, nor even a single Englishman, either in the city itself or in the vicinity. The Anglo-Indian government and Bhurtpore have only political relations. Rajasthan is the Thakur’s native land, of which he is so proud and whose history was traced by English orientalists 600 years before Xerxes, and by Todd 3000 BC; it is the land of fabulous and historical heroes, wild prowess and chivalrous feelings for the females, so little appreciated, despised and even oppressed throughout the rest of India… Here Gulab Singh was at his place and was preparing to host us. We seemed to breathe easier... When the barely rattling, dilapidated carriages of the train going to Jaipur stopped at the Fatehpur station, all of us, with the exception of two Englishmen, exclaimed with relief. In one second, as if rising out of the ground, the shield-bearers of the Thakur carried our luggage into carriages sent by the Dewan (minister) of the Maharaja of Bhurtpore. “His Highness is in Hardwar, on a pilgrimage, but the Dewan is at your service and ordered to prostrate before our American brother-sahibs,” said a tall young Rajput with long hair and a white turban: “Carriages are at your service.”

And here is the Thakur-sahib ... on horseback and with half a dozen broad-shouldered, bearded, long-haired bodyguards, whom we had never seen before... The black silhouette of the rider is clearly outlined on the cloudless dark blue horizon, and the huge figure reminds me of the equestrian statue of Peter the Great.[47] We are all happy ... Only Miss B*** with her usual tact and turning either to the messenger of the Dewan, or to the horse's tails, exclaims in a deplorable voice:

“Great Heavens! What gloomy, wild surroundings! They say that the Rajputs are terrible robbers... Wouldn't it be dangerous for us to go inside the country ... alone?..”

I feel an irresistible desire to strangle the tactless fool, but I refrain and, burning with shame in front of the Rajputs, I glance at the Thakur who has come up to us.

Gulab Lal Singh is calmly stroking his mustache. But in his seemingly causal glance at the Englishwoman, I caught the same lightning swift expression of restrained anger, I would say more, hatred, as in Delhi. Both this anger and hatred are reflected at once in the green face of Narayan Krishnarao.

“Take it easy! – said the even and somewhat sarcastic voice of our friend. – You forget that Rajputana has the honour of being under the protectorate of Great Britain... And its sagacity and paternal vigilance are boundless, as well as her ardent concern for us poor ... robbers. Take a look ... your government will not for a minute lose either you or us from its sight ... It is so afraid that we might fall into the wrong hands!”

And he pointed towards the train station. There on the platform, fussing over his baggage and the box with whiskey and soda, we saw the blond spy in his white uniform.



  1. Moscow News, No. 40, 09.02.1881, pp. 2-3, No. 54, 23.02.1881, pp. 3-4, No. 112, 24.04.1881, pp. 5, No. 118, 30.04.1881, p. 5; Russian Herald, June 1883, Supplement, vol 165, pp. 346-389.
  2. The Jumma-Musjid was founded by Shah Jahan in the fourth year of his reign (in 1633) and ended in the tenth. It cost about £ 100,000, in material alone, since its construction and the workers were, of course, free.
  3. The Day of Wrath (Lat.). – Tr.
  4. Salvadora oleoides is a small bushy evergreen tree found in India and Pakistan and southern Iran. – Tr.
  5. Pariah is one of the untouchable castes in Tamil Nadu in southern India. In European languages, this word has acquired the meaning of "outcast" and "disenfranchised". – Ed.
  6. Decency observed (Fr.). – Tr.
  7. More than once we had to talk with Buddhist monks who had just returned from Burma about the “crimes” and “horrors” that were being charged by English magazines against the King of Burma. To our questions, every one of them assured us that they had never heard anything like that. These Buddhists are peaceful English subjects from the island of Ceylon, extremely pleased with the government of their country and even very loyal to the English, which, after the despotic, bloodthirsty and especially fanatical Dutch and Portuguese, is quite understandable. But these Buddhists do not read newspapers and therefore could not delve into the cunning policy of their rulers, the motto of which should have been the famous French proverb: “Quand on veut tuer son chien on dit qu'il est enragé” (“When you want to kill your dog, you say he's mad,” which corresponds to the English proveb: “ if you want a pretence to whip a dog, say that he ate the frying-pan.” – Tr.).
  8. Through me the way is to the city dolent;
    Through me the way is to eternal dole;
    Through me the way among the people lost.
    (Inferno, Cantos III, trans. Longfellow)

  9. Kufic script is a style of Arabic script that gained prominence early on as a preferred script for Quran transcription and architectural decoration, and it has since become a reference and an archetype for a number of other Arabic scripts. It developed from the Arabic alphabet in the city of Kufa, from which its name is derived. – Ed.
  10. It is known that Emperor Akbar was never a devout Muslim, but, his whole life searching for the truth in all religions, he constantly hesitated between Christianity, Islam, and the religions of the Parsis and Brahmins. He was a great astrologer of his day.
  11. Here is the reference to the wars of independence of the United States in 1775-1783 and 1812-1815 between England and its colonies in North America. Those know as the American War of Independence. – Ed.
  12. Akbar, although his Muslim subjects regarded him as a saint and miracle worker, was far from patronizing the Mohammedan religion; often in need of money, he very coolly robbed mosques and plundered their treasury in favour of the cavalry. But Christian missionaries were not happier than Islamic mullahs. Not only did the emperor worship the sun and pray to the luminary four times a day, but he also demanded worship of himself as a deity. “He studied magic and surrounded himself with people who had surrendered to Satan – people who, in the name and with the help of evil spirits, performed various unclean miracles” (from the notes of the Goa missionaries) (Murray’s Discoveries).
  13. Ajanubahu is a nickname consisting of two Sanskrit words: ajanu – “long” (up to the hips) and bahu – “arms”.
  14. Shivaji, the hero and conqueror of the Moguls, the founder of the Maratha Empire, who was born in the second quarter of the 17th century and who ascended the peshwa throne in 1664, received the nickname “Ajanubahu,” as he had very long arms. Tradition claims that Shivaji was – the incarnation of some strong and powerful “miracle worker from the far North.” He was born 17 years later after Akbar's death – I think in 1622.
  15. Legends of the Mogul Empire. Collection of legends translated from Urdu and Maratha languages.
  16. The House of Dolgorukov (Russian: Долгоруков) is a princely Russian family of Rurikid stock. The name literally means “long arms.” – Ed.
  17. H. P. Blavatsky's grandmother Elena Pavlovna Fadeeva (1788-1860) was born Princess Dolgoruky. – Ed.
  18. In Islam, the ulama (/ˈuːləˌmɑː/) literally means “scholar” or “the learned one.” – Tr.
  19. And from this in translation into Russian – Prince (Kosr Vasishta, or Vasiliy) Long Arms or Dolgoruky!!?
  20. Pashtuns (also Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as Afghans, are an Iranian ethnic group native to Central and South Asia. – Tr.
  21. The symbolic motto of Akbar, carved on talismans; and which Akbar presented only to well-known magicians and astrologers to wear on a turban, as a sign of their dignity.
  22. Hu, Nei, in translation – He, that is, God.
  23. Rabia was the founder of the mystical Sufi sect and lived in the first century of the Hegira. The Persian poet Hafiz belonged to this brotherhood.
  24. It is the pantheistic idea of the Sufis and Vedantists about the unity of the whole world. The universe is one; the forms and images of the physical, as well as of the abstract world, are the same waves of one ocean. God is in the universe and the universe is in God. There is nothing beyond, even chaos.
  25. Unscientific (German). – Tr.
  26. Alas! “Dear friend and ally” has since become a dangerous enemy! Fanaticism and bigotry took their toll. Contrary to the original program, the Swami demanded that the “Brotherhood of Humanity” – the Theosophical Society – accept only “Aryans” as members, that is, persons who have renounced their former faith and unconditionally converted to the followers of the Vedas. Once a “Vedantist” himself, he now began to persecute “Vedanta” – the most purified and best of the ancient philosophies of India – and replaced it entirely with the Vedas, with their dead letter, explained by him in his own manner and at his own will. The new Luther of the East at first, he gradually turned into Calvin, and now quickly follows the path chosen by Loyola's followers. Convinced that neither Colonel O*** nor I would ever agree to publicly become members of the “Arya Samaj” and recognize him alone as the infallible Pope, he flared up with anger, began to publicly call us “nastikas” (atheists) and anathematize us. The Thakur, standing up for us, declared him suffering from “the madness of ambitions.” Thus, the Swami lost about 45 English and American people, who recognized him as their teacher, and our society won 100 members of “Arya Samaj” who left his camp and joined ours.
  27. Give me fire (Russian). – Tr.
  28. To rise at six, to sleep at ten, To sup at ten, to dine at six, Make a man live for ten times ten (French proverb). – Tr.
  29. N. A. Fadeeva (1829-1919), HPB’s aunt. – Ed.
  30. Three faces (Russian). – Tr.
  31. Which means became Turkish-like or Muslims. – Ed.
  32. This dome is 70 feet [21.34 m] in diameter and 260 feet [79.25 m] high from the basement of the lower terrace.
  33. The history of India is so inconsistent and inaccurate that some historians claim that Mumtaz was Akbar's own granddaughter, while others that she was only the wife of his grandson Shah Jahan, the father of the famous Aurangzeb. But the latter is now beyond doubt.
  34. Two sarcophagi with bodies stand in the lower burial hall, located on the lower floor under two platforms; and above them, in the mausoleum hall, in the upper building, there are two empty cenotaphs.
  35. A free inn, where nothing is paid for the night, but, of course, a fee is charged for services at very cheap prices, if passers-by do not have a cook and servants with them.
  36. Kismet is the word for fate or destiny in Islam, corresponds to karma in Hinduism. – Ed.
  37. A. S. Pushkin, "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai". – Ed.
  38. A Russian legendary mighty warrior. – Tr.
  39. Aurangzeb, who called himself the proud nickname of “the conqueror of the universe,” always ordered to carry a golden globe in front of him as a symbol...
  40. Masterpiece (French). – Ed.
  41. Or Ded Moroz (letteraly Grandfather Frost) is a master of winter in Slavic mythology. He also plays the same role as Santa Claus in New Year and Christmas holidays. – Ed.
  42. “…Let no one cover my grave except with greenery, for this very grass suffices as a tomb cover for the poor. The mortal pilgrim Princess Jahanara…” (A part of the original epitaph). It seems that the epitaph was poetically interpreted by H.P. B. or someone else. – Tr.
  43. Koschei the Immortal is an archetypal male antagonist in Russian folklore, who said to be very skinny. – Ed.
  44. Extreme degree (Lat.). – Tr.
  45. Before the Prophet, – the Koran assures us, – he appeared for sacrifices in the flesh, and only at the request of Mohammed, who wished to free mankind from a terrible sight, the angel now appears invisibly and inaudibly.
  46. Perhaps a reference to the poem by Lord Byron's "The Bride of Abydos," whose main character is Zuleika. – Ed.
  47. Bronze Horseman” (1782) is a statue of Peter I on horseback in St. Petersburg. – Ed.