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Letter XXXVI[1]

Instead of a few hours, we stayed in Muttra and its surroundings for two and a half days. The Thakur sent to tell us to stay for the “Spring Festival,” Gokula Ashtami[2]. Krishna's birthday is in August, but has its own prologue in spring, along with the triumph of Gauri, the Rajput Ceres.

The coincidences between Krishna and the Greek Apollo, between the epithets of the latter among the Greeks, Romans and other peoples of Europe and the same adjectives in India attached to the beloved avatar, are so obvious that they cannot but interest lovers of ancient mythologies. I say again that all this is impossible to be a mere coincidence. Especially remarkable is the identity of the names referring to the sun, of which both “gods” are personified. Hari-Krishna is the scorching (destructive) sun. “Ari-Krishna” is just the sun. Krishna, “the lord of the rays” (Phoebus), and his heavenly abode is called aripur or haripur (heliopolis?), or the city of the sun.[3]

“The Rajput dii majores[4] are the same in number and attributes as the gods of the Greeks and Romans, the deities presiding, in a figurative sense, over the planetary system,” as Ward rightly notices (History and Religion of the Hindus, p. 97). Therefore, all religious rites, dances of nautches and mysteries, that is, representations of scenes from their mythology, always have astronomical meaning as a basis. Bhanu Saptami, “the seventh day of the sun,” also called the “birth of the sun” or Vishnu (that is the sun entering the constellation Makara, Pisces, the first of Magha, from November to December 15th)[5], is greatly celebrated in Udaipur. The chariot of the sun is drawn by eight horses from the Vishnu temple and back with such a ceremonial as occurs only when a new rana ascends the throne. They call the summer solstice “the night of the gods,” because Vishnu (like the sun) rests during four rainy months on his bed, on the snake Ananda.

A description of all Hindu holidays, even only the main ones, would require printing a whole library. Sat bara, aur no-tahvara, “seven days (in a week) – nine holidays,” the Rajput proverb that does not require comment. I will only describe the mystery we have seen in the vicinity of Muttra.

The gopikas, the cow-herding girls, begin, of course, with the pastoral festival of Gauri, the local Ceres. Gauri is one of the forms of Parvati, or Durga-mata, “powerful mother,” the goddess of harvest and abundance among the Hindus. Durga-mata is the same Mater Montana[6], an epithet belonging, according to Diodorus, to Cybele or Vesta, in her role as “the goddess-guardian of children”; Mater Montana is called Amba-mata (mother of the mountain) in Rajasthan, and here she is the patroness and keeper of boys, future warriors. The altar of Gauri-Parvati-mata, “the powerful mother of the mountain,” crowns almost all the elevated areas in Mewara, the heart of Rajasthan, and all the “temples-fortresses” of the country are dedicated to her. Her activities are more varied, and her duties are more difficult and versatile than those of her reflections in Rome, Greece and even Egypt, since everything makes one assume that she is the prototype of Isis. Like the Ephesian Diana, “Gauri-Durga” is crowned with a crescent and, like Kibela, she has a crenellated tower on her head[7] and is considered under the name Devi-Durga (strength, power) the patroness of all fortified places. She is also Mata Janani – “the mother of birth,” that is, has the duties of Juno, Juno Lucina; as Padma, “whose throne is set on a lotus” she is Isis of the Nile; as Gauri Tripura (literally – of three cities, Tripolis?) – “governing three cities,” and as Atma-Devi, the goddess of souls, she is, of course, Hecate, Hecate Triformis of the Greeks. In a word, Gauri synthesizes in herself all the goddesses of Greece and Egypt, from Diana and Proserpina to Isis and Ashtoreth. But mainly she is the “earth,” the Indian Ceres, the one, who appears in the mystery sitting on sheaves in a chariot, drawn by a cow,[8] with a kamakunika in her hands, a vase that looks like a cornucopia, from which fruits and grains fall.

After this procession appears Kamadeva – the god of love, the Cupid of India, whose bow and arrows are replaced here with garlands of flowers and a pointed bamboo cane. He hits with it into one of the gopikas, the daughter of Nayada, who burns with love for Krishna. A chorus is heard. That is the hymn to Kama, from the Bhavishya Purana: “Greetings to the god of the flower bow!.. Glory to the deva, who makes the sage forget all his peanace! Glory to Madana, glory to Kama, the god of the gods; to him, who fills Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and Indra himself with the excitement of love!”

Guha-natha appears (Krishna, disguised as the “lord of the cave” (guha), who should not be confused with Gopi-natha, the “lord of the cowherd girls”). He is covered with animal skin, crowned with kusi grass and plays the bamboo pipe, and the gopikas begin to gather in front of him, attracted by the sound of music. But in this action (in the first) the gopikas are not cowherd girls, and Guhanatha himself turns from the “god of the cave” into the “god of the mountain,” into Gordan-Natha, or Natha-ji (the lord of all lords). He is crowned with a brilliant crown of rays, like Phoebus, because here he is the sun itself, like Vishnu, Apollo and Osiris. A simple pipe also gives way to a sitara, a six-stringed lyre[9] and the blue god begins to play not a melody, but, as it seemed to me, scales, and very monotonous. But as I was assured that this music was ancient, like the “music of the spheres” itself, I calmed down.

The gopikas begin to show off in front of the shapeshifter god, by this time having turned into sounds.

I speak of “sounds” because there is no other suitable word. These are nine raginis or no-raginis, and the raga system is the musical scale, the raginis (feminine plural) are the ragas’ spouses. This is not my fault, but the sages’ who invented Sanskrit music, which, in addition to all its learned charm, not at all rejected, but positively not tasted by me, contains a whole mythology.

Here's the proof:

The Sanskrit inventors of music invented six ragas, that is, scales, whose names are: Sri-raga (raga means lord), Vasanta, Panchama, Bhairava, Megha and Nat-Narayan.

Each of these ragas has five wives, and each of these wives has eight children. Each raga, each ragini and each ragini’s child have their names, attributes, their own biographies, genealogical trees, and if they were born in Russia, they would probably have their own formal record[10]. Born in India, each of them, for such an event, received the title of a god, goddess or minor god. The philosophy of the above is that the singer and musician in India sings and plays, having at the disposal 276 different scales, with seven notes in each; each note expresses some sound in the animal kingdom, and this sound must represent some kind of feeling.

For the curious ones, I am writing the sounds of animals and the feelings they express from the original work of the Sanskrit Musical Society, because it will explain best of all what Krishna Nathaji and his raginis represented.

These “sounds,” expressing shades of feelings, were personified by no-raginis[11] who danced before Krishna. Those were nine personifications of the “nine passions,” no-rasa, generated by the melody of the god of music,[12] his creations, which came into being under the magical power of Vach,[13] and the performance was, like the idea itself, charming. Holding hands, no-raginis first dance in front of their creator, and then another transformation follows. The flaming sun-god appears before the audience, not incognito this time, and no-raginis turn into the signs of the zodiac; the astronomical mystery begins, where the constellation-goddesses make a circle around the sun-god and dance the famous Ras Mandal, the dance of the stars. No-raginis and no-rasi again disappeared, only the personified signs of the zodiac remained. And ras mandal still continues. Slow movements, full of grace, facial expressions become more vivid and faster...[14] The mystical dance on the banks of the Yamuna reminds the dance of the almas[15] in Egypt and takes us to the sandy banks of the Nile ...

In the third act, everything changes again. Krishna is again a cowherd boy with a staff and his pipe, and around him are the cowherd girls, the gopikas, reincarnated from the goddesses, playing and singing. No-raginis once again turned into no-rasi, that is, “nine passions,” and they try to lead the shepherd, the brahmacharya, off the path of truth. But they fail. Krishna triumphs in his virtue, and the cowherd girls – en sont pour leurs frais[16].

Krishna, not paying attention to the flirting of the cowherd girls, continues to play the pipe, which has now replaced his six-stringed sitara. But the cows of his sacred herd, ashamed, I suppose, for the shepherd girls, scatter... The sun went down and it was completely dark on the stage. Here the fierce Katoch (another tribe of Rajputs) appear and steal the cows to themselves; and in pursuit of them gokulas (gokula-desh) or kuklopes[17] rush and try to beat off the cattle from predators. When they appear, the fierce Cyclopes-shepherds of Homer, who knew neither the law nor the restraint, shaggy giants rise up in front of the viewer ... They crawl out of the caves, descend from the trees, and on everyone's chest sparkles like a fiery eye, a huge firefly beetle pinned to the animal's skin.

Such luminous beetles, the only illumination in the cave of the shepherd or in the round tower of the poor man from Gokula, are still used by the tribe of Nanda, the educator of Krishna, to this day. Often at night, when going to look for a missing cow or bull, the gokula attaches several of these beetles to a turban to lighten the way. Is it not in this tribe of the gokula-desh that we should look for the origin and explanations for the Kuklopes of the Greeks? Fireflies perfectly explain the “lantern on the forehead” of the Cyclopes-miners, as well as the fact that Homer knew them for a tribe of shepherds, the gokulas, the main and only representative of which was the “one-eyed” Polyphemus.[18]

The mystery ended very late. The Brahmins-chobi (so named from the chobi, the club with which they arm themselves for this performance) having long ago laid siege to the tyrant Kansu in the palace, smashed his fortress into small chips[19] and drove him into the bushes when we were leaving the pagoda. After the performance, “God-Krishna” joined us and turned out to be a very young, tall Rajput who, to our surprise, even spoke English. I owe him the most important information we received in Muttra. He explained to us the meaning of many things that we did not understand then from the performance in which he played the main role.

He deeply believed in Krishna the hero, and rejected Krishna the god no less than ourselves. From him we learned that the service devoted to the seventh out of the seven main types of Krishna, under which he is deified in Rajasthan, that is, Madana-Mohana, “a deity intoxicating with love,” is exclusively in the hands of a Brahmini, a woman. “Madana-Mohana” is a cowherd boy, a charming cowherd boy, a gopi. At present, the great priestess of the blue god is very old and very strict with the temple nautch-girls, whose duty is to play the roles of the gopikas and to court the azure deity. This austerity affects her very temple, which is said to suffer from a lack of “heavenly musicians”[20]. They have to borrow the little sky singers from other pagodas outside of Rajasthan.

They say that there are seven main statues or idols of Krishna in the country, and they were described only by Tod, the only one, it seems, of all the English, who was allowed, like us, fifty years later, to approach the shrine.

These seven “miraculous” statues were brought centuries ago by a mysterious person, Balba[21], who later became the high priest of Rajasthan. When he died, he distributed them among his seven “grandchildren” from his spiritual son (adopted), and now they constitute the greatest source of income for their descendants, the priestly Brahmins of the seven main pagodas in the country.

The one performing Krishna, whose own name I have forgotten, brought us to Nonita[22], the “baby Krishna.” Nonita is sitting on a lotus, which, however, looks like a head of cabbage, thoughtfully holding a patty (paru) in his hand: such patties are made of dough mixed with the Yamuna water, not the other one. From the time of the Afghans, who, with their characteristic iconoclasm, threw Nonita into the Yamuna, and he rested until 1803 at the bottom of the river. When he was accidentally fished out of there, he still had not eaten his patty and was still peering at it as attentively, as if not trusting it. In this abstinence, I sympathize with him. Brought to me in the form of extraordinary grace, the “sacred” patty is still remembered by me. When I ate it, I immediately felt a fit of seasickness and was under the influence of gloomy melancholy whole day.

There is another idol of Krishna, Gokula-ji, found somewhere miraculously, which is also in the hands of a Brahmini, otherwise a female Brahmin. But we did not see either it or her, although we really wanted to visit Yamuna Island, where both can be found. There, too, a whole crowd of yoginis, or female yogis, live like nuns under the leadership of the old Brahmini. We preferred to visit two or three more temples on our way and see, and most importantly, listen to the famous bharts.

Examining the temples and their heterogeneous deities, I completely forgot about the shaligram of our chairman, Colonel O***, which did not leave him for a minute, traveling on the heart, then on the back. My thoughts were so preoccupied with mythological comparisons that if anyone spoke of it, I probably would not have paid attention. But the talisman reminded us of itself, and under such circumstances that it was difficult to forget.

Leaving, in the evening of the last day, the dilapidated palace – where Ananda had placed us upon our arrival – to visit the Gopala-Krishna temple, we decided to walk. The pagoda was so close to our house that the rattling carriage that followed us on our heels seemed superfluous. We sent it away, because to cross the square it was useless getting into the carriage. I went ahead with Narayan, the Babu and Ananda Swami, followed by the colonel with a whole retinue of Brahmins, Pandits and Shastris. Mulji served as their translator.

In five minutes, despite constant stops and obstacles, in the form of monkeys darting between our legs, and whole processions of donkeys and transports, we were already at the threshold of the pagoda, and I sat down on the steps of a wide staircase, waiting for the head of our company. Ananda Swami was standing two steps away from me and quietly talking to Narayan, with whom he apparently made friends, and I sent the Babu to buy delicacies for the “sacred” four-legged and especially for the four-armed.

The Gopala Krishna Temple was built in the back of a dead alley from which nothing could be seen except one corner of the square we had just passed. Waiting every minute for the colonel and the Babu with nuts, I was sitting quietly, quite successfully restraining until then the impudent and unpleasant flirting of the monkeys, which almost got into our pockets. These animals are so accustomed to living among people that even our figures, so different from the natives in dress and appearance, did not excite anything in them except the expectation of an ordinary handout. A whole colony of them gathered around me, and it would be difficult not to become interested, looking at their cunning, luminous eyes, at their glances, stubbornly not leaving my hands and following the slightest movement. One of them, an elderly-looking macaw, who had already lost several teeth, unnoticed by me stole the taken off glove and, before I even guessed about the loss, began to chew it with delight in the corner.

But then the Babu appeared with nuts and raisins and began to throw them in handfuls at the monkeys: then the fun has started. The monkeys were chattering and fighting, and we were looking at them and laughing, when suddenly, completely unexpectedly for us, such a terrible inexplicable howl arose from the side of the square that it seemed to me as if a dozen tigers had broken loose from the chain ... Cry of the crowd, bellowing of bulls, the roar of elephants, it all merged into one dull, drawn-out rumble. It was approaching us, becoming clearer and louder with each second, and I was about to follow the example of the macaws, which instantly disappeared with fear, when Ananda Swami at once distracted my attention from the danger unknown to me and riveted on himself ... Looking at him with wide eyes, I must have presented a picture of such frightened surprise that the Babu, not yet understanding the reason for it, rushed forward to shield me with his slender figure, and Narayan, grabbing a piece of wood, stood next to me in the pose of a gladiator. So we all three were standing for a few seconds, not uttering a word, petrified with amazement.

What happened then? For anyone who did not observe the ascetic, as I did from morning until late at night for three days, nothing happened that would seem out of the ordinary. Having heard the roar, Ananda Swami, usually moving so slowly and smoothly as if on wound springs, suddenly transformed. In the blink of an eye, with one leap that would do credit to any acrobat, he found himself at the end of the alley. Then, with a series of quick gymnastic techniques, he climbed under the balcony of the corner house and hung on it with his right hand, and with his left, it seemed to me, he was pointing at something in the distance.

“What is he doing?” I almost screamed, coming to my senses.

“He is using his danda, ma'am-sahib,” replied the reassured Babu. Only then did I see that Swami was really directing his hand with a magic wand in it to the square.

As if in confirmation of the Babu's guess, although the noise of voices was getting closer, the terrible roar instantly ceased. There were a few more weak hums, and then a whole crowd of Brahmins flooded the alley and among them the colonel ... but in what form, merciful powers!

He lost his hat and, apparently, glasses. The snow-white coat and trousers turned from the manure and dust that covered them into something unimaginable, into rags covered with stains and pieces of the rotten green colour so beloved by London aesthetes, with the brown shades of snuff. His face was redder than ripe cherries, his hair was disheveled, and pieces of straw and hay stuck out in his beard ... He seemed very confused.

“I advised the colonel not to approach the sacred cows, but he did not obey,” Mulji shouted, explaining.

“Damn them, your sacred cows!” replied our president. “I just wanted to feed them with bread and honey cakes, and they began to cling to me ... ten cows. I get away, and they follow me ... shake their heads, lift their tails up, striving to get with their muzzles into my pocket ... Shaking their heads and clinging to me with terrible mooing ... they just deafened me ... Well, I have fallen ... slipped and ... fallen!..”

“Of course, when you have shaligram under your shirt; after all, Ananda-ji[23] told you, he warned you: beware, do not approach the cows!”

“It was not shaligram, but bread; they did not run after me before ... Well, when I offered them bread...”

“You have never been so close to them before,” Mulji insisted. “It was the shaligram that attracted them...”

“No, it was bread! As soon as I took a piece of it in my hand and gave it to the first one... so everyone began to strive to get its muzzle into my pocket...”

“To get to the shaligram, not into the pocket,” corrected the “general.”

“They piled on me, pinned me into a corner,” continued to explain, as if apologizing to me, poor colonel, “well, I have fallen... the Brahmins waved their hands, asking the cows in Sanskrit to leave me, and at least one of them would have hit them with a stick!.. Well, the cows were getting even more unbearable!..”

Mulji's face, at these words, showed sacred awe.

“To hit the cow of Gopala-Krishna!”

“Did they hurt you?” I inquired, still too struck by the unexpectedness and frightened to enjoy the funny side of the situation.

“No ... it seems I am OK,” he answered, feeling himself. “Only now I am dirty all over... damn cows! It's a pity that I didn't have a cane with me!..”

“I beg you, don’t say that, Colonel,” Narayan, alarmed for us, whispered, looking fearfully at the Brahmins. “It's good that they don't understand you. They are capable of killing all of us because of the sacred cow...”

“But you would have had it even worse, Sahib,” said the Babu, “if it had not been for Ananda Swami ... It was he who helped you ... with his danda...”

“Well, I did not see him there ... He went ahead with you, didn’t he?”

“He was striking the “sacred” herd from above!” the Babu continued to laugh. “He was standing like Indra with his arrows ... over there by the balcony...”

“He was just watching!” I interrupted. “It was all over before he used the danda...”

“You know, Upasika, that it was not so,” Narayan interceded with reproach and walked away to the “brother of the Grove” who was standing aside.

Ananda jumped down from under the balcony at the very minute when the first Brahmins appeared at the entrance to the alley, and we then learned that by letting the people pass, he apparently prevented several cows from rushing into the narrow passage after them. The herd chased the unfortunate president at a trot until he disappeared in the alley.

“What exactly was he doing and how did he “stop” them?” I asked “Krishna” who joined us a few minutes later.”

“He was standing at the entrance and waving his danda in them.”

“How in them?... that is, at them, at the cows?.. Well, of course, that's what frightened them.”

“No, namely in them. My cows wouldn't be frightened of waving the wand at them.”

He said “my” cows, as if seriously imagining himself to be the god Krishna.

We went home without seeing the Gopala temple; the sun went down, and under the dark veil of twilight, which very conveniently hid the deplorable appearance of our president, we returned home and began to prepare for departure. Unfortunately for the colonel our luggage was sent from Bharatpur straight to the interior of Rajasthan, and the president could not even change his clothes. But our cold-blooded president was not at a loss even here. He bought the white native clothes and appeared before us in a suit that represented a strange mixture of Rajput and European attire.

But he apparently realized in his soul that he had learned a lesson. The shaligram disappeared from his body, and nothing more reminded us of its “magical” presence. However, we benefited by possessing it. The Brahmins, having taken this fact into account, although they felt great envy for our president and were amazed that their sacred object did not lose its properties even on a person of an unclean mlechcha, still felt for us even the strongest respect and, as it were, even superstitious awe...

We left Muttra at night going along the river in a large primitive boat, reminiscent of a Venetian gondola, in which we had a table and benches around and even had a place for a kitchen. The latter, however, turned out to be useless for us, since we left our gondola at two o'clock in the morning, and we were taken into the forest to some “vassal,” as Ananda said, to spend the night. To my delight, I found in the room assigned to me an iron bed with bed-linen that seemed to have been carried from a first-class hotel, even with a moustiqaire[24] made of perfect tulle. Apparently, the real sorcerers are the Thakur and Ananda: un lit a sommier[25] in the Rajput forests!

The next day we went to the village of bards.  Bhatas [bhāṭas] or bhartas  [bhāṭṭis] and caruni [cāraṇi] or caranas [cāraṇas], that is, bards and chroniclers,[26] have been carrying things since ancient times. This “carrying” began as a favor and gradually turned into an occupation. In this country, inhabited by eternally warring tribes, gangs of robbers of Bhils and Meenas, in the days of old it was impossible to send neither money nor things far away. Bards were the only respected class and the curses of which robbers feared. Undertaking to deliver a sum of money or a valuable thing, a bhart vouched with his life for the delivery; if the robbers, in spite of his rank, took away the delivery, he at that very moment thrust a knife into his heart and, having sprinkled the blood over the robbers, would die with a curse on their heads. This curse has always been fulfilled, as the Rajputs say. Centuries have passed, and now the bhart, carrying millions, will not be touched by any robbers, be they a hundred against one. Bharts serve as messengers throughout Rajasthan, and their dignity makes them sacred in the eyes of the most ferocious outlaw.

“Even the half-savage Koli and Saharia fear the curses of this strange creature, which leads the caravans with complete safety through the most desolate deserts and impenetrable forests of this area. A traveler who wants to reach the forts of Jalore[27] or Radhunpoor[28] without hindrance, and then Surat or Muscat Mandvi, joins the caravan, headed by a bhart: it is completely safe…” – writes resident Mivara (Personal Narrative).

Charans and Bharts are Rajputs; both replace Brahmins in the population of Rajasthan, since they have the right to perform sacred rites in their craft of a chronicler and genealogist. After the cow and the bull, bhart is the most sacred being among the Rajputs, and the entire bhart’s family is as sacred and inviolable as himself. Often meeting with robbers, bhart began by going out in front of them with a knife in his hands and uttering a well-known warning. If the thieves did not let up at the first word, then he inflicted a slight wound on himself and sprinkled the robbers with his blood. If this did not have an effect on them, and his caravan was still robbed, then he killed himself, and the wife, children and relatives who remained after him were obliged to kill themselves with the same curses. Contempt for life is the first lesson learned by bharts and charans in childhood.

The next morning, having got up after a peaceful sleep in the forest, Ananda took us to just one such carana, in whose family we spent time until the evening. In a white, long and wide robe, the old man looked like Ossian[29], descended from the picture. Sitting on the floor with a sitara in his hands, he sang to us the ancient legends about the prowess of his county sons, about the fall of Chittoor, about the heroes-chohans (the Thakur’s tribe) and about the bliss of death for a debt of honour, for a given word, for the motherland ... His two sons, the tall, handsome Rajputs, sang too, and their legends were all about the exploits of Krishna, Balrama, Arjuna and the Herikula tribe. And their wives and the old mother served us at the table, and did not know what to do for the “Sahibs” going to the “great Thakur.”

The bhart women's costume is extremely picturesque: dark woolen skirts with snow white saris above, and flowers, corals and gold jewelry in their pitch-black hair. Here the women are more reminiscent of the beautiful Neapolitan women of the past than the Hindu. In this blessed corner of India, there is no caste or fanaticism of the Bombay Brahmins. Bharts and caranas constitute, so to speak, imperium in imperio[30]. They do not depend on anyone, and the government cleverly refrains from interfering in their affairs: the whole of Rajasthan would rise as one person in defense of their sacred bharts. They are the last link connecting their bitter present with the grandeur of their unforgettable memorable past.

These singers unknown in Europe, and little-known in India, perhaps (for us without doubt), keep the first pages of the history of all mankind, and not just one Aryavarta. The heroic songs[31] of India are all that they have from the past. But these songs give the bharts the right to demand that they be regarded as the primitive historians of all mankind. They lived long before the time when Greek fables first attracted the attention of poets and even Herodotus, the father of history, thousands of years ago; the bharts sang about real events and living people, not myths. Calliope[32] has been idolized in India since the time of Vyasa[33], a contemporary of Job, according to early orientalists such as Sir William Jones, Wilson and others. And these sanskritologists, even if they sometimes sinned with incorrect conclusions, never sacrificed truth and facts for a profitable position. Thousands of scrolls of some historical genealogies and chronicles in verse have survived; and their poetic exaggerations would not prevent the historian from extracting from them real events and facts, the presentation of which in one of the European languages would, very likely, overturn the conclusions of not only the MacCauleys and Grotes, but even our Russian historians. “Chhund bhojunga”[34] and serving the muses, as we see from hundreds of genealogies of the long-extinct Suryavansa tribes we have read, did not prevent the bards from adhering to the truth, unlike other poets; and empty praise to the leaders of “prehistoric” times does not prevent anyone from paying attention in these annals to events that are obviously historical. The very fact that the Rajput bards so often expressed the bitterest truth to the rulers of their day is a guarantee that they did not sacrifice it for the sake of earthly blessings. Offended or insulted in their souls by the actions of their masters, they crushed them, regardless of any consequences. Under the merciless scourge of the bard's satire, many tyrants trembled in their lifetime and many benefits fell on the people, who saw the bard as their main protector. Until now, the bard visha (poison of the word) is more dangerous than the enemy's sword, more terrible than the Englishmen themselves in the eyes of the Rajput prince.

We were told by some “initiated” bards (there are some among them) that a huge collection of their chronicles, the original scrolls of which were written according the oral traditions, fills in all the gaps and even corrects all the mistakes of the world history; that they contain all the evidence that the tribes of Rajisthhan lived on the shores of the northern seas, Baltic, Black, Caspian and others in prehistoric periods; that all Germanic and especially Slavic peoples in Europe are the descendants of the tribes that left Rajasthan (in antiquity Raetthan). And indeed, if the Finns and Magyars of Hungary should look for the origin of their race and tribe in Central Asia and Tibet, the Swedes – in Kashgar, and the Germans (only of Max Müller, however) on the Oxus, so why don't we look for the ancestors of the Varangian-Russians in the forests and “great desert” of Jaisalmer? Who knows, maybe the Slavic forefathers of the “brothers” – the most ancient[35] Bulgarians and Serbs, Czechs and us, Russians – actually sleep under the seven layers of the prehistoric cities of Saurashtra, Amber and Udaipur? Alaric and Genghis Khan did not invent the strange way of their funeral ceremony themselves. When the majestic mound was erected over the bodies of the two heroes, Gibbon says, the vast space around it was planted with forest “to prevent the foot of a man from stepping on sacred ashes forever.”

This is how the heroes of Rajasthan were buried in ancient times, and this method is described in the songs of the bard Chanda. Where the “valley of death” is now, the Indian desert leading to the Indus Valley, there were formerly impenetrable forests. Thousands of years have turned them into dust, and the area where there are still such mounds – into a desert. In the steppes of Russia there are many such “mounds”; and what we call “baba”[36] is also called “baba” in India, only this word means “father,” and I saw several such stone babas in Mewara.

A whole cemetery of round mounds with “babas” at the top is located not far from the bard's house. This is the area where thousands of the gosains, “ascetic warriors,” who are here called “Kanthur yogis,” perished. We were taken to the forest, where their ashes rest forever, where the bards cover these mounds daily with branches dedicated to them, as well as the Celtic priests, with rowan and ash branches and water them with sacred water. These pagans have respect for the dead in general and for their soldiers killed in battles – a trait that some Christians could also adopt from them. I know that there are in the Caucasus and in Sevastopol some graves of officers and even one of a general, killed or died of wounds, which were abandoned, forgotten, did not have even a cross...

At the beginning of this century, the Kanthur yogis were famous, as in previous centuries, in the military annals of Rajasthan. They lived (and now live, although not in such numbers since the arrival of the British) in “brotherhoods” by the thousands. These are common, uneducated hatha yogis, but the bravest warriors; the native rulers often entered into alliances with them, especially defensive ones. Their ferocious prowess has become proverbial. They were the most fearless and brave warriors in the whole country, the priests of Baladeva (Balarama), the god of might. Now the rajas have ceased to fight among themselves, and the Kanthur yogis, no longer finding the sphere of their warlike activities, have completely surrendered themselves to self-extinguishment: for lack of enemies, they beat each other. Several of them sat under the trees on tiger and lion skins, covered from head to toe with white ash, with tangled, unkempt hair tied in a turban at the crown of their heads. Near each of them burned an altar with flaming coals, with which they sometimes surrounded their legs, spreading them on their knees, as if instead of flaming ones they were foil coals ... The stench of burnt human flesh together with the steam and hissing of coals, finally convinced me that they were really burning coals...

“Ugh, how disgusting!” I said, addressing the colonel and Ananda in French. “Here, Mr. President, you can learn hatha yoga from those ... What can be better?”

But the sight was too disgusting even for an inquisitive colonel. He could not resist and turned away, noticing that he prefers the graves of the murdered to the torture of living yogis.

Further, another cemetery of ordinary soldiers, and again the monuments, “babas,” erected over the graves of the Rajputs who perished in the battles. The ashes of the burnt bodies were brought to their homeland, and over the “leaders” was placed not a “baba,” but a more developed monument. On some monuments, the rider himself was sculpted in relief in full armor, with a shield, sword and lance; and next to him his wife is a sure sign that she burned herself at the grave of her husband, that is, she committed sati. The thought of what happened in this place during the scene of imagined burning a living widow spoiled for me all the pleasure of the walk.

In Rajasthan, every place consecrated by the tradition of maha-sati, that is, great self-sacrifice (self-immolation) immediately becomes an arena for spirits exploits, an “unclean place.” This, however, is not with the Rajputs alone. The “spirits” of suicides, it must be assumed, repent of their action in the West as well, and come to continue their forcibly interrupted life in bodies that are less comfortable, but more inclined to vice. And in Russia, suicides do not rest quietly on the grave, if you believe the popular rumor. However it may be, but in India their “spirits” reach the apogee of annoyance. Spiritualists might be overjoyed here, but non-spiritualists complain about them very much. Among the terrible altars of suicide, among the pyres, where so often, so mercilessly, youth, beauty, earthly happiness were burned, where the mother, sobbing, at the same time blessed her daughter for the feat of holiness, and the father, who was obliged to be present at the maha-sati from beginning to end, sang hymns of praise, often to his only daughter, whose young, trembling body crackled and writhed in the devouring flame, – “demons” immediately appeared, starting from the night of the ninth day. There, in free apartments, Jiger Khor, a terrible ancient harpy, and Dhakuna, her guide, immediately appeared.[37] Both of these demons, as everyone knows, prowl at night, attacking the living, whose hearts Jiger-Khor devours, pulling them out of the trembling body. Some mausoleums, like the tombs in Pompeii, are made with an inner room, where annually commemoration ceremonies for the deceased or the dead are performed. For the Rajput, this is the most terrible, difficult day of the year, but which, according to the generally accepted custom, cannot be avoided. He is obliged to go to this funeral room alone and there perform a ritual over the ashes, sprinkling the room with water, making offerings with flowers and rice, and then lie prone on the floor for about two hours, muttering mantras.

“My brother,” – said the old bard, “is one of the bravest warriors of Mewar, returning home after the pitri-ishvara (commemoration), learned that in those two hours he had turned gray like an old man of eighty ... And he was not even thirty.”

“Well, did he see anything?”

“No, he didn’t but ... he felt; all the time he felt the icy hands of Jiger-Khor on him, which was trying to get to his heart... He was saved by mantras. Well, the day of pitri-isvara[38] is a great ... but a terrible day! In the cemetery that we came from, they mess around every night...”

“Who are they?”

Bhutas (spirits). Coming out of the back door to the inner veranda, you can see even from here in the evenings how they flash with colored lights over the graves...”

“Bluish,” Ananda corrected, “you see just the shahaba, ghost-light, that you can find in all cemeteries and especially on the battlefields,” he added impressively.

“Well, well ... on the battlefields ... of course. And where did the braver warriors lie with their bones, if not here? But these lights are their souls!”

“Not souls, but phosphoric radiance from the decay of so many animal bodies.”

“Our maha-raja, Thakur-sahib, also told us this ... But neither he nor you believe in Dhakuna and Jiger-Khor, because they will not dare to touch you, and they are not afraid of us.”[39]

This contradiction and skepticism on the part of Ananda did not seem to please him. The old man frowned and suddenly, hitting the strings of his sitara, began to sing the song of jauhar. Jauhar is the terrible ritual when exhausted warriors, convinced that they cannot defeat the enemy, gather their wives, mothers, sisters and brides and kill them with their own hands, then burn their bodies on the pyre. The year 1275 is memorable in Rajasthan for centures, and the bards sing to this day “about the fall of the city of Chittor[40]” and the death of “Rani Padmani,” the innocent cause of the battle and the fall of the city, which has been subjected three times since the historical period to the most terrible “saka”[41], that is, the assault and extermination of an entire tribe. Chittor finally perished in 1676, but it was no longer defended by its legal owners, but by its conquerors and destroyers. The legend refers to the events of 1275 and is full of interest and charm. Here's the episode in a few words.

Bhimsi [Bhim Singh], the uncle of the young raja and his guardian, falls in love and marries the daughter of the Ceylon king, the chauhan Hamir Sank, the beautiful Padmani, an epithet given only to “the most beautiful of the beautiful.” Her beauty, talents, noble soul and selflessness, which brought her to the pyre, and Chittor to its final fall, are the favorite subjects of the folk legends about Rajvar (Rajasthan).

Now I’ll present, as I can, the wonderful ballad of the bards, sung to us by our old master. I am giving a literal translation, but, of course, with abridgements concerning the main events of the historical and forever memorable battle.

“Alauddin's heart longs for not formidable Chittor,

Pathan[42] longs for lotus-eyed Padmani, the bravest Bhimsi’s wife,

He is sending a messenger to the Maharaja’s Durbar:

‘Give me the rani[43] for Delhi ... Take all the kingdom, all wealth, –

Everything that I own, for the rani, for the precious pearl of the East!

Otherwise you are lost! Chittor, your city, I will crush forever

I will destroy agni-kula[44] and I will tear out your heart with it!’

Bhimsi, our king, became angry, and his eyes flashed terribly:

‘I don’t need a kingdom, caliph, I’m not afraid of the Moguls!

You will never own the rani-queen, my faithful Padmani,

I spit in your beard, enemy! Come! The agni-kula are waiting for you!’

The city is besieged. Padmani is starving, the Mogul is triumphant,

He is sending the messenger again:

‘At least let me have a look at the rani Padmani!

Without guards, I will come alone ... I trust you, raja,

The Rajput will not change his word!..’

Sparing the beauty-rani, in order to avoid jauhar,

Gave Bhimsi his consent, he let the caliph enter Chittor's gate,

He was alone and without guards...

…The evil Pathan saw reflection[45] of the lovely rani

In the mirrored wall of the durbar hall.

Ala was seized with passion: for the trust, the evil treason

The Pathan is preparing for the raja...

‘… I return trust for trust,’

Said Bhimsi to Alauddin, ‘I’ll follow you seeing off

As far as Chittor's gates…’ Suddenly shouted he [Alauddin], calling his guards,

He made Bhimsi his prisoner, and into the Pathan camp

Took him, saying: ‘O Rajput! You are a hostage of Alauddin,

Give me Padmani, buy your kingdom and freedom!’...”[46]

The inhabitants of Chittor, besieged by 80,000 soldiers of the traitorous Pathan, were seized with despair. The elders began to hold council: whether to give Padmini for the raja, or that would be dishonorable. But the rani herself decided that she was obliged to sacrifice herself for her beloved husband, planning at the same time not to surrender to Alauddin alive. After consulting with her husband’s uncle Gora and his son Badal,[47] she together with them came to the conclusion that they should try to free Bhimsi, without desecrating rani and not risking her life. They sent to tell the emperor that Padmani would be sent to him, if only he took off the camp and moved on. They will take her to him and give her in his arms; only she cannot be sent away without a ceremony and seeing-off that is due to her rank. She must go to him prepared, with a large retinue of her courtiers, with her belongings and dowry, and everyone who wants to say goodbye to her in Chittor, women and maidens, including those who wish to accompany the rani in Delhi. The caliph agreed and started making preparations, first swearing to the Chittorians that holy women's privileges, that is, a tightly covered palanquin would not be violated.

Then a crowd of women, “mothers and elderly relatives of the Rajput warriors,” left the city, and amidst them up to 700 palanquins were carried; each one was carried by six warriors dressed as porters. According to the caliph's promise, the royal tents were surrounded by khanats – linen, quilted walls, and the palanquins with the retinue were allowed inside. Half an hour was given to Bhimsi for parting with his rani; but immediately after his appearance he was quickly carried away in a vacant palanquin from the camp. Up to 700 armed warriors, the color of Chittor youth, and weapons were in other palanquins. Half an hour had not yet passed as Alauddin jealous of such a long farewell and suspecting an ambush, despite the oath, suddenly burst in behind the khanats – the events were all confirmed by the historian Ferishta. Instead of lovely Padmini and her retinue of young maidens, the caliph found about five thousand warriors and several hundred respectable, but very ugly old women who “clung to the Moguls like wild cats.” The Rajputs, having sacrificed their lives in advance, only wanted to cover the flight of Bhimsi, and under the pressure of 80,000 people, surrounded on all sides, every single person died. Seeing their sons and relatives dead, the brave old Rajput’s women stuck daggers into their hearts, and, as the ballad says:

“Not a mountain that grew in the Chittor valley,

It is a pile of the brave warriors’ bodies, may they not be ashamed,[48]

All fell for the king ... There is another mountain above that one –

Those are the bodies of mothers and women of Rajvar...”

The Raja Bhimsi was given a fast horse, and he managed to get away from the Moguls that were pursuing him. The feat of their comrades and their old mothers inspired the Chittorians so much that during the following days they performed miracles of courage. The besieged finally repelled the besiegers, and Alauddin was forced to retreat, having lost half of the army.

But alas! the best color of Chittor youth died in the Pathan camp! A few months later, the enamored Pathan returned to the attack again and this time was the winner. Led by Bhimsi, the whole city, except for children and women, went out to fight outside the city gates. The heroes, without a minute of hesitation, rushed to the enemy “one against ten,” according to history, and lay down “mown on the battlefield,” says the ballad, “like ears under the breath of a cyclone.” The motto of the Rajputs, as well as with the ancient and present Russians, has always been: “Let us lie down our bones here; the dead have no shame”.

At that time being a twelve-year-old boy only one young Badal, Padmani's cousin escaped, although very wounded, but according to the Rajputs he was obliged from such a young age to defend his homeland and die for it.

Chittor's heroes involuntarily resemble those of Montenegro. In the character of the Montenegrin there is much akin to the character of the Rajput: the same fabulous daring and courage, the same contempt for physical suffering, the same endless love for the homeland. Young twelve and thirteen-year-old brave boys, about whom we read so much in the seventies and eighties,[49] seem to be resurrection of Badal from Chittor.

This episode is described extremely vividly in Khoman Rasa[50], and in the warlike epic of the old man-bard it appeared even more vividly. The venerable old man was completely transformed: his black eyes burned, beaming with warlike fervor at the sound of his own singing; the face covered with wrinkles was distorted by indomitable hatred for the enemy when recalling “saka of Chittor,” then it expressed grief and suffering when telling of the suffering of wives and mothers locked in a besieged city, about their preparations for the jauhar (self-immolation), so as not to fall into the hands of the Moguls alive, do not give themselves up to the enemy for desecration. Man bhooka ho! “I am hungry ... hungry!” shouts the goddess of death and destruction hovering over the battlefield, the patroness of the besieged city, offended by the act of the raja. Relentless Kali bends over a warrior, and he falls into the icy embrace of Yamuni (the deva of death); she will shine by her cheragh (lantern) over another and the sword falls from his hand, and his own shield falls, covering his face “like the shadow of a grave, casting its black veil on the ashes of a buried warrior...”

Badal, all over in blood, returns alone within the walls of Chittor. There is a dialogue between him and his uncle's wife, the cause of the fall of the city, the ill-fated Padmani. Before joining her spouse, that is, to perform sati and jauhar, she wishes to hear from the lips of a young boy about the last deeds of her “lord,” son doux seigneur et maitre[51] ...

Badal replies:

“He was the mower in the battlefield; I was picking up only ears of grain,

Step by step I followed, like a reaper, a sharp scythe...

I saw how he, our father, prepared a bed of honor for himself;

With a bloody carpet he covered it, as a pillow he chose a prince

Of the Mogul… and lay down on it. He sleeps now sweetly and soundly,

Protected by the bodies of enemies, put to sleep by his own hand...”

Padmani the widow again asks her nephew:

“Tell me, Badal, how did my king, how did my dear lord fight?..”

And Badal answered her:

“Oh mother!.. How else can I describe his courage,

When there was no enemy left in front of him to tremble or admire him?..”

Smiled the rani, said goodbye to the brave youth:

“My lord is waiting ... The fire is already burning,”

She throws herself into the flames followed by wives, young maidens of Chittor.

The official history of Udaipur, like its chronicles, adds that Padmani was followed by 22,000 of Chittor maidens and wives into “the fire that saved their honor and good name.” They sacrificed their lives to the debt of honor and burned themselves up on a terrible pyre as well as the female population of the underground city, near Kauyapur (see part I).

Ferishta (historian) mentions only those sakas that were successful, the sakas by Alauddin[52] and Akbar[53], and thus sins against history. But he also tells about the horrors of this mass self-immolation and about the cave of Maha-Sati.

In Tod's memoirs, we find the following description of the “author, the only Englishman,” as he himself writes, “who was allowed to visit the now sacred Chittor”:

“The Mogul conqueror took possession of the extinct, completely deserted capital, with streets littered with corpses and smoke that poured more thick clouds from the opening of the cave, where the object of his passion died. From that fateful day this cave became sacred to all Hindus; since then no one has penetrated its dense darkness, and superstition has created a huge snake guarding the entrance. The poisonous breath of the serpent extinguishes the light of torches, with the help of which the traveler could reach the place of the ‘great burning’.”[54]

The suffocating vapors and fear of the living, not mythical snakes, forced Tod to return. “Khoman Rasa” assures that this cave leads to a magnificent underground palace, and many English people believe in its existence.

But here Tod speaks as if there was only one great self-immolation, one maha-sati, one jauhar after saka by Alauddin. In fact, the line “no eye has penetrated since then” refers to the subsequent maha-sati, because the terrible event of 1275 was only a harbinger of a second, perhaps even more terrible, albeit less poetic one, and Tod himself describes this second self-immolation in the days of Akbar, the famous emperor, son and heir of Humayun. The camp site of this enlightened, but sometimes the cruel sovereign, is still shown near Chittor, especially since a pyramidal marble column was built on it, which is called by the people Akber-ca-dewa, “Akbar’s lamp.” His camp stretched from the village of Pandovli, about ten miles [16 km] from the besieged fortress, and front tents reached almost to the foot of the rock.

Chittor[55] is one of the oldest cities of Udaipur or Mewar and has always been famous for its heroes. Here is in a few words its history from 1275 to 1803, not to mention the prehistoric and even pre-Muslim invasions.

In 1303, Alauddin again appeared under the walls of Chittor and, having occupied it, finally destroyed everything he could, sparing – a strange thing – only the places consecrated once by the presence of a woman he loved passionately. The palace of Bhimsi and the “beautiful Padmani” remained untouched; the huge pillar, the Jain obelisk and the Buddhist temple belonging to it, built in 896, since Padmani belonged to the faith professed in Ceylon – also miraculously survived... Ou la poesie de l'amour va-t-elle se nicher!..[56] Allauddin is a cruel tyrant and fanatic, being a gentle knight!

Chittor proper, that is, the old city with a fortress, is built on a huge rock, and the more modern one, built since 1350, is located at its foot. Below the river Berach flows, and on it a wonderful bridge has been built on nine arches, of which the middle, semicircular one, has, moreover, four Gothic arches on both sides. But the lower town is not interesting. It is necessary to climb the old one, inspect all these ancient buildings in order to get a correct idea of its archaeological sites. There, inside the fortress, which, according to legends, has existed since the time of Krishna (who has here, by the way, two temples of his own, the largest in size in the country), there is also Nollaka-bhindar, an internal citadel, built, of course, by the hands of fabulous Cyclopes, – so massive are its walls and towers. Near it there is the Padmani's palace to the battlements of which the time-destroyer has barely touched. There is her tower; its spacious, high rooms have remained empty since then, and the poor, unfortunate beauty, like her sisters in fate, received an unenviable, posthumous reputation as a bhut, a midnight brownie. Mirror walls have been preserved in the durbar hall (throne room). They got their name from the mosaic-like scales on them, made of small pieces of shiny, polished steel, as in Persian palaces.[57] Only the miracle of love could help Alauddin to see the wonderful image of Padmani in these “mirrored” walls being flared up by it. Looking at them and putting all my efforts to see in these pieces a reflection of my own, well-known physiognomy, I found, after a long search, my right eye on the top of my head, and my nose being at my left ear. With such an anamorphosis[58] of his favorite image, it was not worth the Caliph to take the blame upon himself!..

At the temples of Krishna there are two more reservoirs (tanks), each one hundred twenty-five feet [38.1 m] long, fifty [15.24 m] wide and fifty feet deep, made of huge slabs of black marble. The top of the hill is crowned with a temple dedicated to the “destructive forces” with Shiva's trident at the entrance. The walls of the temple are unimaginably massive, and the deity, the patron of the pagoda, would take a lot of time and effort to prove his destructive power on these walls. Scattered inside the fortress, eighty-four more cisterns survived, many of them full of water. But the most remarkable building, though not so ancient, is the Kheerut Khumb, “the obelisk of victory” erected by rana Khoombo[59] as a result of the brilliant victory won by this Rajput king over the allied armies of Malwa and Gujarat. The obelisk is erected on a forty-two-foot-square [3.9 sq. m] terrace; it is itself 122 feet [37.19 m] high and stands on a quadrangle, each wall is 35 feet [10.67] long. This obelisk-tower has 9 floors, one room with a side inner corridor and a winding staircase in each. The tower is crowned with a dome. The entire building is in white marble and covered from top to bottom with carvings. There is a whole mythology on the walls of this obelisk-tower. In addition, the city has two or three oldest private castles and several equally ancient towers.

After Alauddin Chittor was taken by Bahadur Shah, king of Gujarat, in 1533. Bahadur, in turn, was driven away by Humayun, the Delhi Padishah, who returned the city to its Rajput rulers. Then Chittor was taken by Emperor Akbar in 1567. In this year, the saka was again followed by the juatar. The terrible pyres were again lit in the Maha-Sati cave; again the blood of the virgins and women ran in torrents, and a whole tribe of Rajputs, turning their women’s bodies to ashes, rushed from the fortress gates onto the Moguls and everyone lay down their lives at spot – “for the dead have no shame.”

What a terrible bloody drama was played out act after act in the history of this Chittor! After its foundation by a prehistoric, fairytale hero “Raja Hoonn,” the goddess of “strength and destruction,” patroness of all fortified places, Durga, promises the first kings of Chittor never to leave her beloved rock, Chittor, without help. As long as the Ekalinga-ka-divana[60] remain faithful to her, she, Ekalinga, the goddess “born of a lioness,” will not leave them.[61] The first raja of Chittor, the “initiate” Bappa, was the spiritual consort of the goddess. He took an oath at his initiation by Chiranjivi,[62] and as long as the rajas keep this vow, the goddess will not let Chittor fall. Until its rajas cease to be called by the names of Raj Guru – “teachers of the rajas,” Hindu Suraj – “the sun of the Hindus” and Chukwa – “world rulers” – Chittor won’t live in poverty.

But a few rajas, having become proud, says the legend, often forgot the vow and even ceased to show due respect to the goddess. They introduced other gods (Krishna, hated by Shiva) into her community, and the bright scarlet color of the banner darkened. Durga Ekalinga promised her protection to the descendants of Bappa, until they betrayed her. During the first saka of Alauddin, twelve rajas, the crowned heads of the Rajwar, defended this banner, but it faded, and they all laid down their lives on the battlefield. During the second saka, started by Bahadur Shah, the Thakur Deol, from the royal house of Mewar, sacrificed himself to the goddess (he killed himself on her altar) and she saved his city. But for the third time, in the terrible days of the siege by young Akbar, Durga Amba, assuming her original form of Kali, remained deaf to their appeals. She turned away from her crown, and her appearance as Samaraprita (to the raja of Chittor in 1412), when she announced to him that "the glory of the Hindus is at sunset", was her last one.[63] Udai Singh, raja of Mewar, the last in a series of kings who sinned against the goddess, fled at the first news of the appearance of Akbar and his army. Then the face of the goddess turned away forever from Chittor. The glorious city fell despite its desperate defense. Not Durga Ekalinga, but Kali appeared in front of the horse of Udai Singh with her usual warlike cry: Mein bhoka ho! (I'm hungry); she disappeared and was fed only with the blood of the last of the glorious Agnikula tribe.

Thirty thousand people died in the days when Akbar stood under the walls of Chittor. The terrible jauhar was prepared, and the surviving 8000 Rajputs, having eaten together the last beera[64] and put on saffron shirts, the emblem of a blazing fire, set out to fulfill their terrible duty. Nine ranis (queens) and 15 princesses (their daughters), two young sons of the raja and all women of different classes died from the hands of their husbands, sons, brothers and relatives, and their bodies were burnt in the Maha Sati cave. Then this eight-thousandth army opened wide the gates of the fortress and rushed in an irrepressible stream against Akbar's army. Not one of the eight thousand survived that day, and not a single yellow shirt was tainted by the shameful surrender to the enemy.

Well, the Rajput deity left them on that terrible last day of Chittor. The rock of their power and independence was given to the saka; her temples and palaces were destroyed to the ground, and Akbar captured even all the symbols of the royal house: nagharas,[65] which sound announced for miles around the departure and arrival of the rajas and princes; candelabras from the altar of the “great mother” Amba Mati, who girded Bappa with a sword, and even this very sword.[66] Since then “Chittor saka ka nan” – “I swear by the sin of Chittor saka,” became a sacred and inviolable oath among the Rajputs.

Tijo saka Chittor ra (the third saka of Chittor) brought Rajasthan to the point that you now see!” said the bard, gloomily finishing his songs. “The “Great Mother” turned away from us, and now almost three centuries have passed since Rajasthan has been dying... The sun has left it... The Suryavansas are degenerating!”

Alas! It was just a metaphor. The sun burned and scorched even in this dense forest. I languished in this stuffy atmosphere and, sitting on the carpets spread out on the darkened veranda, could hardly move my tongue. But curiosity and interest prevailed over laziness and heat, and I wished to find out in what form Chittor was now: what happened to it after the saka of Akbar.

Ananda replied for the bard.

“One of the Mewar rajas took possession of the ruins soon after the last defeat, but in 1676 he opened its gates and gave it to Aurangzeb at his first request, without a fight that time. Chittor was again returned to its Rajput rulers only at the end of the last century.

“Have you been there?.. Have you seen its ruins?..”

“Yes, I have and I saw everything that was left of him. The once invincible Chittor was long abandoned by the residents, as well as by the government of the rana. According to the first, the curse of the goddess lies on the city; in the eyes of the second, it became completely useless. “The residence of the kings, which for 3,000 years raised its crowned head high above all other cities of India,” says the chronicle, “has now become a refuge for wild animals who have chosen its temples as their lair” ... The sacred capital is now guarded by only gossains and yogis and the entry into it is prohibited[67] for the rani and the princes of blood by a special decree of Mahant, the head of warrior monks; neither the curse of the goddess, nor wild beasts, nor jiger-khoras (demons of the harpy) touch the yogis, that's why you are not afraid of them!” complained the bard.

The ascetic of Pondicherry did not respond to this remark, and the correctness of the views of the superstitious singer remained unconfirmed and unexplained to posterity. But Narayan turned to Ananda, asking him if he could tell us what role the Thakur ancestors played in the last act of Chittor's bloody drama?

The ascetic silently bowed his head in agreement, and Narayan, noticing that this episode, which he intends to tell us, was officially included in the annals of the (royal) houses of Salumbar and Maitraka[68] and is sung by all the bards, proceeded to the story.

“The names of Jaimal and Patta remained forever immortal and inseparable in the history of Chittor,” began Narayan, whose eyes lit up even at the story of the ancestors of the Thakur, who rejected him, so much the poor young man idolized our hero. “These names will remain a symbol of everything unparalleled heroic, they will live in the hearts of the Rajputs and all Hindus, they will be considered a shrine, as long as there is at least one spark of remembrance of our great past in the country ... When the leader of Salumbar who defended the “Gate of the Sun” perished Patta of Kailwa was chosen as a new leader. He was only sixteen years old at the time; his father, a valiant warrior, had fallen in one of the preceding battles seven years earlier, and his mother refused the glory of a sati at the request of her husband who was dying of wounds and sacrificed a valiant death for this only son, whom she raised as the heir to the glorious name. In the West, you admire the mother of the Gracchi,[69] the Spartan and Roman matrons; but all these are only faint reflections of the great-grandmother of the Thakur-sahib’s father in the female line. Girdling her son with a sword, she ordered him to put on a “yellow shirt” in advance and die for Chittor. Only, as colonel Tod rightly noted, she surpassed the ancient Roman mother in that by supporting her son with her own example. She did even more. Young Patta was betrothed; fearing that love for his betrothed and her image would not affect her son during the battle, she handed her daughter-in-law[70] a spear and a dagger and, taking her by the hand, led the young girl from the cliff down to the city gates, where the defenders of Chittor witnessed the valor of two women, one elderly, the other almost a child. “Defending herself like a lioness, attacking like a tigress,” says the chronicle, near her mother-in-law, who performed miracles of bravery that day, the young Amazon finally fell, killed at the feet of the old heroine. Is it any wonder that, seeing such an example of fearless patriotism in their mothers and daughters, the Rajput warriors turned into real lions, fully deserving the name of singh (lion)! Defense lasted from sunrise until late at night. Seeing how his bride fell dead, Patta signaled to his mother. Ordering the women with a loud voice to get jauhar ready, set fire to a pyre in the cave and then the soldiers in the back rows to kill them when everything was ready, Patta, with his old mother at the head of the vanguard, rushed to the Moguls. You can read what the emperor himself says about this last, desperate attack, in which the old woman-warrior, as Akbar calls her, “cut the heads of his bravest serdars off their shoulders.” The shaitan[71] himself possessed this rajputni, he writes. Jaimal, Patta's cousin, showed the same miracles of courage at the other gate and joined in a general attack against the enemy in the evening. When Patta finally fell, being shot through with bullets, his mother, “looking like bloody Kali,” boldly took her son in her arms, carried him under a cloud of arrows and bullets to the city gates and, having handed over the corpse for burning, returned to the battlefield. Jaimal of Bednor was killed by a bullet from the gun of the emperor, who was very proud of this honor for the rest of his life. This fact was stated by the historian Abul Fuzl and the emperor Jahangir, who also names the gun[72] from which Akbar shot Jaimal – sangram. Well, our India brought great heroes into the world!..”

More ballads, a few more heroic songs, and Ananda calls us, saying that the sun has set and we have to go...

The Hindus are getting on the elephant, while the Babu, the colonel and I are getting into a covered cart with bulls. We are going to the ruins of an ancient temple, in the surviving part of which a hermit yogi and his disciples live. By morning we will be there, and the whole night will be going through the forest... But we are not afraid of either tigers or robbers, the Bhils: the colonel has his shaligram, and now he fears much more cows than all the royal tigers of wild Rajasthan; and I have an inexplicable sense of security at the thought of Thakur and even Ananda. In addition, an old bard and his two sons are traveling with us...

With a feeling of complete confidence that I will wake up the next morning in perfect health and integrity, I fall asleep and dream of Thakur’s great-grandmother driving away with a twig from me a whole herd of tigers, who put their hands in my pocket, like Mathura monkeys...


(To be continue...)[73]


  1. Russian Herald, April 1886, vol. 182, pp. 684-718.
  2. Go-kula is the cow () tribe. Krishna was raised by the shepherd Nanda; the prologue to this festival at the birthplace of Krishna is celebrated in the spring. Ashtami is the first phase of the moon.
  3. Rajputs believe in two kinds of “paradise,” in two places or two Champs Elysees: one is purely spiritual, the other is material. In their songs, the bards teach the warrior that the one that falls on the battlefield “from steel,” “paying the debt of honor,” will get the “spiritual paradise” and never return to the earth. The liberated spark (iot) will reunite with its home, the sun, Surya.
  4. Elder gods (Lat.). – Tr.
  5. Makara is Capricorn, which lasts from December 22 to January 20; Pisces from February 19 to March 20; Magha is the eleventh month of the Hindu calendar, which lasts from January 21 to February 19. – Ed.
  6. Mother of the mountain (Lat.). – Tr.
  7. The whole province of Mewar and the environs of Udaipur are dotted with such ancient crenellated towers, and they are all under the protection of Amba or Gaurye Durga.
  8. Earth is Prithvi, symbolized with the Hindus by a cow. See Asiat. Res., vol. III, p. 278.
  9. Music, perhaps devoid of melody for the European ear, but having a full seven-note scale; although the monk Guido of Arezzo is considered the inventor (in the XI century) of the seventh note and indeed the Greeks had only six notes, but this seven-note scale is in the Puranas.
  10. The formal, or service record, was the main document for persons who were in civil or military service in the Russian Empire. All information about the service was entered into it. In 1918 service records were replaced by employment record book. – Ed.
  11. No” is “nine.” [It is rather “nava” or “nav” in modern transcription. – Ed.]
  12. “Nine passions” or nine muses of Apollo [navrasa or nav-ras in Sanskrit].
  13. God of sound, this time mystical, occult.
  14. Cymbals, tabor and murals (a kind of flute) almost drove me crazy; but I learned a lot that evening. The chhobi of Muttra have an immense and, it is said, well-deserved reputation in India as singers and mimics; and the bass of the Brahmins with the contralto and tenors of the “heavenly singers” of the pagoda were full of harmony. But this is vocal music, and instrumental one in the end is unbearable for a European listener.
  15. Egyptian dancers. – Tr.
  16. Are at their expense (Fr.). – Tr.
  17. Κύκλωπες (Greek) – Cyclopes. – Tr.
  18. See The Odyssey, Canto 9. – Tr.
  19. Kansa is Krishna's uncle and usurper of his throne. Every year chhobi Brahmins besiege his palace and allegedly kill him in the forest where he escapes.
  20. Celestial musicians, or singers, as you know, at the pagodas are always the sons of nautch girls, dancers. They are not reproached with this anywhere, except for Rajasthan. But in this land of chivalry, the nautch girls are real vestals.
  21. Balba Acharya, a high priest of the 16th century, who was mentioned several times by J. Tod in vol. 2 of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, when refer to seven statues of Krishna. – Ed.
  22. It is written nawa (new) and nita (butter). In infancy, Nonita liked fresh butter very much and often stole it from neighbors, hence the name. [It is spelled “Navaneeth” nowadays. – Ed.]
  23. “Ji” is a polite adjective, like “respectable,” only written after the name.
  24. Mustikera (Fr. moustiqaire) is a mosquito net. – Tr.
  25. Bed with a net (Fr.). – Tr.
  26. Bhart is a bard and genealogist, and charuna is a chronicler, but both classes are poets and songwriters.
  27. Jalore Fort (build in 8th-10th centuries AD) – one of the nine castles of the Maru, under the Paramara’s dynasty in Rajasthan (Jodhpur State). – Ed.
  28. Radhanpur – a city in the neighboring state of Gujarat. – Ed.
  29. Ossian is a legendary Celtic bard of the III century. – Ed.
  30. State within a state (Lat.). – Tr.
  31. Vaḍā gîta. – Tr.
  32. Calliope is the muse of epic poetry, science and philosophy in ancient Greek mythology. – Ed.
  33. Vyasa is the supposed author of the Vedas. – Ed.
  34. Serpentine Stanza, verse.
  35. That is, the Danube Slavs, and not the Chud that came from Altai.
  36. (1) woman; (2) kurgan stelae (Rus. баба). – Tr.
  37. Dhakuna is an evil spirit and serves as a guide to Jiger-Khor, a blind harpy.
  38. Pitris are ancestors, deceased relatives in the ascending line. Pitar is a father, ish or ishvara is lord. Pitri-ishvaras turn to be “deceased lords-ancestors.”
  39. Nothing is able to dispel the superstitions of the Rajputs, even such authority as the Thakur. Colonel Tod tells in his Memoirs about his comrade, Captain Waug, who, having heard about the “lights,” “devils” and “witches” and suspecting that this time Dakhuna was the hyena he had noticed at dawn, rode on horseback to the cemetery to wait for the beast. He lay in wait and killed “Dakhuna's horse,” on which the witch (harpy) Jiger-Khor prowls at night. Hearing that the hyena was killed, the Rajputs were horrified, predicting misfortune to the captain for the death of the witch's “horse.” The very next day, Waug fell from his horse and broke his leg, which justified their superstitious prophecy.
  40. Chittorgarh is a major city in Rajasthan with the Chittor Fort, the largest one in India and Asia. – Ed.
  41. Saka of the Rajputs is the same as the modern words sack and sac (probably passed from them to the Anglo-Saxons and the Gauls), “le sac d'une ville” – robbery of the city after taking it. Here is what the author of The History of the Rajput Tribes writes about the subject: “The besieged Rajputs, having lost all hope of victory, kill all their women at the last minute, and warriors, dressed in long saffron-colored shirts, rush in their last efforts of despair forward on the enemy and, of course, on certain death. They call this doing a saka, where every sakha (branch) is cut off from the tree by the enemy. Chittor has suffered three sakas.
  42. Alauddin is the Emperor of the Pathans.
  43. Rani is a female form for rana or raja. The wife of Udaipur's rana is called rani; and so the wife of every raja.
  44. “Agnikula” is the agni (fire) tribe, extinct with Chittor.
  45. The historian Ferishta confirms the fact, telling that Alauddin was allowed to look at rani Padmini only in the mirrors arranged in the durbar hall.
  46. It’s a historical fact. Alauddin confided in Bhimsi, knowing that the Rajput would rather die than change his word, and did this only in order to lure him into an ambush. With hypocrisy and fanaticism, this most belligerent and most successful in business of all the sovereigns who ever occupied the throne of India, was like the last of the Timur dynasty, Aurangzeb. The title “Sikandar-i-Sani,” “the second Alexander” (Macedonian), which he invented for himself and ordered to be minted on his coins, was well deserved according to the opinion of the chroniclers. In India, he was a real Attila, the scourge of all rajas, and almost completely exterminated the Agni tribe in Chittor.
  47. Badal is one of the greatest heroes of Rajasthan in the Middle Ages. He alone killed many Moguls with his own hand.
  48. I draw the reader's attention to this purely Rajput phrase, or rather an oath. The word laj is literally “shame,” a term used by the Rajputs in the sense of honor. Laj rekho means “may I not be ashamed”, or literally, which is the same – “may I be saved from shame,” since among the Rajputs the word shame is synonymous with dishonor. Is this not the same phrase that was used by the “bogatyrs of Vladimir,” uttered by Dobrynya Nikitich, if I am not mistaken? Isn't that what Svyatoslav wanted to say by his famous phrase: “let us lie down our bones here; the dead have no shame?” And laj rekho, “may I be saved from shame,” is a phrase that can be found in the chronicles of Udaipur, uttered three thousand years ago by Suryavansa-Balrama. It was not the Rajputs who adopted it from the Varangian-Russ, was it?
  49. Here is a reference to the Montenegrin-Ottoman War of 1876-1878. – Ed.
  50. Khoman Rasa, the story of Rawut Khoman, composed in the ninth century (James Tod, “Annals and antiquities of Rajasthan”). – Tr.
  51. Sweet lord and master (Fr.). – Tr.
  52. Alauddin Khalji (1266-1316) was an emperor of the Khalji dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate in the Indian subcontinent. – Ed.
  53. Akbar the Great (1542-1605) – Akbar is the third Padishah of the Mughal Empire (reigned from 1556), under whom the culture and art of India reached its heyday. – Ed.
  54. Annals of Mewar, p. 223.
  55. Although we visited this city much later, in order not to return to it, I describe it here.
  56. Where will the poetry of love nestle (Fr.). – Tr.
  57. The question is: did the Persians adopt this mode of wall decoration from the ancient Hindus, or did the Rajputs adopt it from the Iranians?
  58. Anamorphosis is a distorted projection. – Ed.
  59. He ruled in Mewara from 1418 to 1468.
  60. One of the titles of the Udaipur Maharajas.
  61. Rome had its Romulus, Chittor had its second founder – the nephew of raja Mori, whose origin is also lost in the myths of antiquity. Bappa (infant), called Shaila Adhyah, “lord of the mountain,” was this nephew in ancient inscriptions and in the history of the Puranas. Like all primitive princes, he grazed the “flock of the sun” and in his walks in the mountains encountered with the hermit Chirnjiva (living forever), who had been sleeping deeply in the bushes for more than three centuries. Awakened by the shepherd prince, the hermit in gratitude initiates him into the “mysteries of Shiva” and thus makes him the spouse of Kali in her form of Ekalinga, born of the “lioness-goddess,” that is, from the same Kali. All “initiates” are called by the Shaivas the suitors or even the husbands of Ekalinga (also Isa, Parvati, Durga, Gauri, the goddess of the earth, Amba-mati, the universal mother; all these are types or aspects of Kali). Ekalinga is a goddess who guards mountains, rocks and fortified places under the name of Gauri-devi. This is the same Cybele and, like the Greek goddess, is depicted in a cogged, like a fortified tower, crown. By marrying Ekalinga (that is, having become “initiated”), Bappa receives from his spiritual wife full armament: a bow and arrows, a shield and sword, with which she girded him with her own hand, and a spear. Then, invincible, like Achilles, he drove out his uncle and became, with the help of the goddess, the king of Chittor, and Durga-Ekalinga the patroness of the city, since she is the goddess of the rock on which it is built.
  62. This oath of the kathar yogis is still pronounced annually by the Udaipur rajas to this day: “I swear by Guru Chiranjivi and the goddess Ekalinga; by Takshaka, a wise serpent, and Hari – the Wise; I swear by Bhavani (Pallada) to smite the enemy. Smite, smite!” All the armor received by Bappa from Ekalinga – the bow and arrows, the spear, shield and sword – are kept in the treasury of the raja of Udaipur. “Warrior monks” take a vow at them.
  63. See the annals of the bard Chanda. The last book, p. 2.
  64. Beera or paan, a fragrant leaf of betel nut, with various spices, which is served by the Hindus at parting and eaten together.
  65. Large drums 8 or 10 feet [2.5 – 3 m] in diameter.
  66. Counting his victims, Akbar estimated his success by the golden cynaras (necklaces) removed from the corpses, signs of the royal family and nobility, that all together weighed 74 ½ manas (a mana = 4 pounds [1 Russian pound = 0.41 kg; 1 mana = 1.64 kg; 74 ½ manas = 122.18 kg = 269,36 English pounds]). Since then, the sum of 74 ½ has been called thilak, the “cursed”. Put on a Rajput letter or a business document, this number means an inviolable oath, for it is synonymous with the vow of “Chittor saka sins.” The violator is expelled from the tribe and the city in which he lives, cursed and often killed (See Rajpoot Tribes).
  67. Only the raja of Udaipur is called rana now. The difference between the rana and the raja is the same as between the emperor and the king.
  68. “The names shining brighter than all others on this dark page of Chittor history, sacred to the bard, as well as to any true Rajput, immortalized by the pen of Emperor Akbar himself, are the names of Jaimal of Bednor and Patta of Kailwa, who belonged to sixteen best Thakuras-vassals of Mewar from its royal family; the first was the Rajput of the House of Maitraka (the bravest of the bravest clans of Mewar); the second was the head of the Jugavats, another great branch from Chunda” (Chronicles of Mewar).
  69. Cornelia (II century BC) was a Roman matron, daughter of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, wife of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. She became the mother of twelve children, including two Gracchi brothers – Tiberius and Gaius. Cornelia was widowed early, but nevertheless gave her sons an excellent upbringing; it was thanks to her, according to ancient authors, that the Gracchi brothers became one of the most prominent politicians in the history of Rome. She outlived both her sons and remained one of the most respected women in Rome until her death. – Ed.
  70. “Betrothal” in India is equal to the bonds of marriage, and it cannot be dissolved. The bride is already a wife by law.
  71. Shaitan is an evil spirit in Islam. – Ed.
  72. Lock with a wick. “He (Akbar) called the weapon with which he killed Jaimal sangram, since it was of great strength and quality; from it he (Akbar) shot three or four thousand birds and beasts” (Jahangir-nameh). Akbar did more. He was so struck by the heroism of Jaimal and Patta that he ordered statues for both to be erected at the main entrance of his palace in Delhi. Here is what Bernier writes from Delhi, July 1, 1663 (1684 edition, translated into English) to London: “I find nothing remarkable about this front door (to the palace) except for two stone elephants on either side of the gate. On one of them there is a statue of Jaimal, the famous raja of Chittor, and on the other – Patta, his cousin. These are the two famous here brave men who, together with their mother, a woman even braver than them, gave so much work to Akbar, and who ... chose to die with their mother over the surrender of the city; and for this act even their enemies considered them worthy of posthumous statues. These two big elephants with brave warriors on them make an impression of some greatness and cause the intense feeling of horror.”
  73. At this, H. P. Blavatsky's letters break off and their continuation is not found yet.