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It was about two o'clock in the after- At Benares, the mission settlement is noon when our boat anchored off Ráj between the dreary English station and Ghát, the landing-place just below Be- the picturesque native city. Of the nares. The city rose before us, stretch- station we shall say no more: let it rest ing along the left bank of the Ganges, in its ugliness. To the missionaries we which here makes a picturesque bend, shall presently return. But now we had and is crossed by a bridge of boats. The better step into our friend's carriage, sun was too hot to allow us to land in and drive off to the city, where elephants comfort, and we sat contemplating the are waiting to take us through the distant houses and temples, with two streets, and where the Raja of Benares tall minarets rising above all. Soon (just rewarded and panegyrised by the after four, we landed; carriages were Viceroy for loyalty and good service) waiting for us, and we drove along a has lent us his boat, that we may see very dusty road to cantonments, where the view from the river. And, truly, we were to stay at a friend's house. We this is a sight worth seeing. The ground at once noticed two points of contrast on which the city is built rises gradually between the north-west provinces and from the water's edge; and so its crest Bengal. There, from the dampness of affords a splendid position for the great the soil, the country was as green as mosque, built by Aurungzíb on the ruins England; to-day, all was parched, brown, of a temple of Vishnu. But though this and grassless. On the other hand, the mosque (except for its lofty minarets a bright, gay colours in which the Hin- worthless structure) has appropriated to dustanis dress, are more picturesque itself this commanding site, it was soon than the unvaried white clothing of the plain, as we rowed down the river, that Bengalis.
the city is not Mussulman, but Hindu ; Every Anglo-Indian town is divided and not only Hindu, but the very headinto at least two parts—the city, where quarters and sanctum sanctorum of Hinthe natives live, with its narrow streets, duism. The temples are countless; their bazaars, mosques, and temples; and the pyramidal tops tower in the background station, in which the English are settled, above the houses, like the spires in the with its white bungalows, dusty gar- city of London, or appear in front, flankdens, government buildings, and (gene- ing the magnificent ghâts, which rise rally very ugly) church or churches. from the river with their lofty flights of The city and station are often three or stone steps, relieved from monotony by four miles apart; and the station is fur- small projections, often crowned by ther divided into civil lines, where the kiosks. These ghâts are crowded in commissioner, judge, magistrate, and early morning by swarthy figures, coming other officials reside, and cantonments, down to wash away their bodily and with barracks, hospitals, and officers' spiritual pollutions in the holy Ganges, bungalows, usually stuck down, without or to fill with its water their bright order or symmetry, over a dusty mai- brazen vessels, sparkling in the first rays dan, or plain. Sometimes, too, there is of the rising sun. All these effects are a mission station, with a neat church, greatly enhanced by the fortunate bend schools, missionaries' houses, and gene- in the river, round which the houses rally a native Christian village. On the and temples group in the shape of a outskirts of cantonments there are, or crescent, and by the solid appearance of used to be, the sepoy lines, rows of native the buildings, fashioned as they are of huts; but now, in most places, these are good stone from the neighbouring quarin ruins, and will soon be removed. ries of Chunar, instead of being, like the
cities of Bengal, mere masses of brick
This almost trifling detail of and plaster, green, black, and crumbling decoration marks the decline of Hindu from the effect of the periodical rains. architecture from the profuse but grand
But we must land at one of these and massive carving of the great rockghâts. Most of them have been built cut temples and other more ancient by Rájas, or other powerful natives, who buildings. In this temple, it is imposhope to be brought here in old age or sible to avoid admiring, in a measure, sickness, that they may breathe their pillars, arches, and spires, absolutely last close to the heaven-sprung river, in covered with minute sculpture; but, as a city of such sanctity, that even a the whole building is only fifty-one feet Christian dying in it may look for ad- high, and forty-seven feet long, the gemission to Paradise, if he have added to neral effect is puny, and reminded us this topographical virtue the merit of somewhat of a drawing-room ornament giving money liberally to Brahmans. kept under a glass case. From the narHence each ghầt is provided with one row street in which the temple stands, or more temples, and with buildings to we entered a small court, in the centre accommodate its owner and his family. of which rises the actual sanctuary, with The ghất by which we are returning to the dome in the middle, and a spire or the city was the property of Nana Sahib; pyramid on each side; the colour of the and no doubt, if his conscience smote whole being a rich dark red. The dome him in that supreme hour, amidst the and one pyramid are covered with gildjungle of Nepál, he was assured by his ing, or, according to the Brahmans, are spiritual guides that the merit of its actually of gold; this being the only erection could not be washed out even place in which, by the permission of the by the blood of Cawnpore. We enter gods, the true splendour of Benares is the temple which he built close to his revealed to sinful man. For, in truth, ghất, and find it thronged by discord- the city is entirely golden; every temple, antly-shrieking worshippers. It is un- house, ghât, and pavement is of the like the generality of Hindu temples ; same precious material, though to our for the actual place of worship is on the impure vision they appear mere stone third story of the building, and is a and wood. Within the temple, the prinlarge hall, supported by richly-carved cipal objects of worship are the ordinary wooden arches, with a sanctuary at the symbol of Shiva, and an image of his end, containing an idol of the usual wife, Parvati. But even the elegant ugliness, resplendent with gold and sil- prettiness of the Vishveshwara is sadly ver, before which are scattered tasteful deformed by dirt; and the pleasure of bouquets and garlands of flowers. But seeing it was diminished by the need of the characteristic specimen of modern forcing a passage through the filthy Hindu temples, or at least of the temples worshippers ; among whom was a great of North India--for those in the South Brahmin bull, several of whose divine are much larger and more imposing—is brethren we had seen strolling about the famous one of Vishveshwara (a name the bazaars at perfect liberty, eating of Shiva), which we visit after leaving what they liked in the vegetable stalls, Nana Sahib's ghât. Indeed, this is one butting whom they chose, and, in fact, of the holiest buildings in Hindustan leading lives of entire enjoyment, which It is, however, only about a hundred would certainly terminate in a green old years old ; and its architecture, as usual age, but for the risk of being decoyed to with Hindu buildings after the estab- the slaughter-house of a Mussulman lishment of the Mogul dynasty, is much butcher, who has no religious scruples affected by Mohammedan influences. to prevent his turning any one of them Thus, it has a dome and an arcade, into commissariat beef for the English which are purely Mohammedan features, soldiers. The whole worship is so but are here assimilated to the Hindu noisy, dirty, and devoid of all elements flower offerings, that it is hard to under- erected. It is about a hundred feet high, stand how it keeps its hold upon the of brick, cased with stone, at least in its people's minds.
lower part, for the top is a ruin. It has Though this is the only important eight faces, each containing a niche for temple in Benares itself, yet a few miles a sitting statue of Buddha, whose form from the town there is a much older is still traceable, with his curly hair and sacred building, and one which by all large ears, in the usual cross-legged posimeans deserves a special visit. This is tion. The stone-work is further adorned a Buddhist tope, rising among the ruins with beautiful carvings of flowers, espeof the ancient city of Sarnáth. Without cially the lotus, and most graceful patentering now into the vexed questions terns, formed sometimes with straight, connected with the history of Buddhism, sometimes with curved lines. Near it we may say, generally, that it probably are other ruins; one fallen tope is at the arose from a reaction against the strict top of a high artificial mound, and bricks Brahmanish system, and especially are strewn about in all directions. against caste; and was either invented But Sarnáth is a digression from or revived by Gautama, or Sakya-muni, Benares, inserted here to complete the a prince of one of the Gangetic king- sketch of the religious buildings in or doms, who died B.C. 543. It became near the town, but not of course to be the state religion in the time of king included in the same excursion as that Asoca, B.C. 250, whose capital was Pali- to the Vishveshwara. To the city itself bothra (Patna), and who, though he "put we must now return, and pass from its to death one hundred brothers," to se- theological to its scientific remains, for as cure the throne to himself, is described Niebuhr
of the ancient Borsippa in by the priesthood, whom he elevated to Chaldæa, it was the chosen abode of supreme power, as a prince of piety the mathematics as well as the religion and supernatural wisdom.” i With his of the Hindus. The present observatory, reign the architectural history of India indeed, was built by Jey Singh, a Hindu begins, as no building has been disco- Rája, employed by the emperor Mohamvered of earlier date than his accession.2 med Shah (A.D. 1550) to reform the A tope (from the Sanscrit sthupa, a calendar, but it was probably the restoramound) is generally a bell-shaped tumu- tion or enlargement of a more ancient lus, erected to contain a relic, or to institution. The building is close to the mark the site of some occurrence in the river, and is adorned by some beautiful history of Gautama, who, after his ab- oriel windows and balconies in the sorption into nirwana, a state of bliss- same mixed Hindu and Mohammedan ful unconsciousness not distinguishable style as the Vishveshwara, but on a from annihilation, was called Buddha. larger scale, and much more effective. The great tope of Sarnáth is compara- The strange old instruments are marveltively modern, not earlier than the fifth lous to behold. There is a huge sundial century A. D., for we possess the works in the shape of an inverted arch, with a of certain Chinese pilgrims, who tra- gnomon twenty feet high, containing a velled into India, to visit the sacred long steep flight of steps, the whole fitter scenes of Buddha's earthly life, and to for giants than men to measure time by, collect memorials of his religion. Now, and occupying a large portion of the roof in the year 405 A. D. one of these, Fa of the observatory. Besides other dials of Hian, visited Sarnáth, and has in his less colossal dimensions, there is an exdescription omitted this tope ; whereas, traordinary stone model of the earth—a in the seventh century, Hiouen Thsang circle, with the sea flowing round it like wrote an accurate account of it. Be- Homer's ωκεάνoιο ρέεθρα, Mount Μeru tween these two dates, therefore, it was in the middle, and four openings for the i Sir Emerson Tennent's Ceylon, vol. i. pt. iv.
four cardinal points. We stood in the Fergusson's Architecture, book i. ch. i.
3 Lectures on Ancient History, xii.
sea, and, had we clambered over the a conscientious observance of his creed, stone circumference of the earth, might till he revealed his real motive for such have reached Mount Meru, and perhaps scrupulosity. “The truth is, that I have seen Indra himself.
a great many children and grandBut the beauty of Benares consists children to marry, and, if people even not in its separate buildings, but in their supposed that I had lost caste, I should picturesque grouping in the narrow not marry them advantageously.” He streets and bazaars. The city is like had with him a modest gentlemanly son Cairo ; in some respects more, in others who did credit to the Government less striking. There are, indeed, fewer College, where he had been educated, bits of pretty Eastern architecture scat- and contrasted advantageously with tered about the streets ; but, on the another young man, the orphan son of a other hand, an idolatrous religion admits dispossessed Rája, whose family, exiled of more variety than puritanical Islam. from their ancestral possessions, are Thus, red elephants, and other animals in living on their pensions at Benares. The gaudy colours, with gods and goddesses, youth's manners were most unprincely. flowers, and palm branches, are painted Pointing to one of our party, he asked, on the houses, which are also adorned in a loud voice, Wuh kaun hai ? (Who by carved verandahs, galleries, oriel is that?) which inquiry was followed up windows, and projecting eaves. The by a string of questions about our temples, too, being small, group better private concerns and business at Benares, with the houses, and give more real varied by a sketch of his own probable variety to the streets, than the great income. As he was leading a life of mosques which overtop and overpower absolute idleness, an English friend, the Cairo buildings. The bazaars are full who took an interest in him, had adof traffic and bustle, and thronged by a vised him to apply to Government for a teeming population of bulls and men, of commission in the army, or some useful whom the latter, as we made our way employment. “What !” he exclaimed, through them, saluted us with loud cries “doyou suppose that I mean to do work ?" of Shiv! Shiv !
a remark which must modify the stateWe became acquainted during our ment that his manners were unprincely, stay with some of the native gentlemen for it is to be feared that, according to of Benares. There is one of consider Hindu notions, such indolence is essenable wealth, who received us in a hand tial to princedom. He had been to no some house fitted up in European school or college, and, therefore, those fashion, and in very fair taste, which who complain of learning as apt to make is not a common characteristic of the the Hindu forward and conceited (which Anglicised houses of Hindus ; for they indeed is often its effect on Englishmen generally delight in tawdry coloured also, unless it is ennobled and hallowed prints, cut-glass chandeliers, fancy by other influences), may reflect that the articles of Brummagem manufacture, want of learning is also not without its and papier-maché furniture, much be- unfavourable effects. daubed with gilding and flaming colours. And now it is time to ask what are But here the decorations of the house we English doing for the good of these were more sober and solid. Our host ex myriads—whether they still cry Shiv ! pressed a great love for the English, and a Shiv! or whether, from the influence of great desire to visit England. From this, education, they have given up Shiv, however, being a Brahman, he is deterred without finding any better helper, whom by the fear of losing caste, or at least of God's Providence has brought under the a report that he had done so reaching rule of a nation which worships Christ? India ; "the mere thought of which, How are we justifying our right to the he said, “would make him nervous and possession of India, by working for the unhappy during the whole journey.” benefit of those who, when we came to
less degradation ? First, something, it might be. The whole length of the may be hoped, is effected by the vigor- building is occupied by one large handous maintenance of law and order. We some schoolroom, with class-rooms openhave taught the professors of the two ing out of it on either side, the partitions great rival religions of India, that theo- being only carried up half-way, so that logical discussions are not to be carried the noise of the great school distracts on by flinging beef down the wells the class-rooms, and of the class-rooms attached to Hindu temples, or pork into the great school. We found the first the Mussulmans' mosques. We have class deep in Macbeth. Their English shown them that tumult and disorder was not very fluent, but they seemed will not succeed in lowering the price to understand the language well, for of grain. We set them an example of they explained to us very readily that the undaunted performance of duty, puzzling passage :when in the time of greatest danger, in 1857, no magistrate would consent to
“ If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere
well abandon his post, and a missionary It were done quickly: if the assassination volunteered to perform the functions of Could trammel upon the consequence, and the vacant chaplaincy, and to remain in catch, Benares for the purpose of administering
With his surcease, success: that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here, comfort, help, and divine counsel to the
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, English soldiers and residents. At the
We'd jump the life to come.” time when the sepoy huts were blazing on the maidan, and the green flag float A very interesting part of the instituing in the city, and the 37th Native tion was the Sanscrit department, where Infantry refused to pile their arms, we aged Pandits with white beards were showed them that active courage was
teaching just as they did before the another essential element in national English ráj was thought of; the pupils greatness, by restoring the British au all seated on the ground, working mathority in three hours, and driving from
thematics on sanded boards, or reading the station the remnant of the mutineers, poetry and philosophy on long loose in terror-stricken flight. Whatever may strips held together by two pieces of be the faults of our courts of justice, wood. Some sway their bodies backarising from ignorance of the native wards and forwards as they work, and character, and our confidence in dis- repeat the poetry in a monotonous singhonest subordinates, it is at least some song. Into this branch of the college thing that the Hindus feel a European reform has to be introduced warily : the civil officer to be absolutely incorrupti- stricter Pandits regard even the knowble. Again, native hospitals and dis- ledge of English as profane. Yet some pensaries prove that our Government consent to learn it. One of them, a does not neglect the bodily sufferings of teacher of mathematics, is translating its subjects, and, above all, our care for into English for the Bibliotheca Indica them is shown by education and mis a Sanscrit work on astronomy, and sionary work, though in the latter the showed us the proof-sheets. “What is Government properly refuses to take its date ?" asked one of our party. The part.
English professor who was with us inThere are two great colleges in Be- terposed, and told us in a low voice that nares, the one administered by Govern this was an awkward question to put to ment, the other by the Church Nissionary him, for the Pandits taught that the Society. The first is a somewhat pre treatise had been revealed by the Sun tentious Gothic building, with a dumpy himself, and was anterior to all time. tower in the middle. The internal The other college is called Jay arrangements are not so good as they Narain's. Its founder was a wealthy
native, unbaptized, but inclining to 1 Bishop Heber's Journal, ch. xiii. Christianity, born A.D. 1752, and a