When the express had arrived that morning from Bombay, eight bodies were found of victims to the plague who had died on the way. They were laid on the platform and covered with a white sheet; and in the station there was a perfect panic, a surge of terror which spread to the town, and broke up the market. The shops were all shut, and the people rushed to their knees before the idols in the temples.A portico, supporting two stories of an unfinished building, forms the principal entrance; the pilasters are crowned with massive capitals scarcely rough-hewn in the stone. This porch alone gives an impression of repose, from its simplicity of line amid the medley of statues and incongruous ornaments loaded with strong colours, which, diminishing by degrees, are piled up to form each temple, ending almost in a spire against the sky. Vishnu, reclining on the undulating rings[Pg 112] of Ananta Sesha the god of serpents, whose name is the Infinite; idols with human faces riding on bulls, and elephants, and prancing horses; terrible Kalis with two fists rammed into their mouth, and six other arms spread like open wings; Ganesa, the elephant-headed god, ponderously squatting, his hands folded over his stomach; Garudha, the bird-headed god, ridden by Vishnu when he wanders through space; Hanuman, the monkey god, perched on a pedestal in an acrobatic attitude, the face painted bright green; gods of every size and every colour mixed up in a giddy whirl, round and round to the very summit of the structure.Evening fell, purple and orange tinging the princes' muslins to delicate hues; then very quickly all was dark. Deep melancholy came over us; we all sat without speaking a word, while from afar came the clatter of tom-toms from the temple, sometimes drowning the music, which droned on in a minor key, a maundering strain without a close but constantly repeating itself.
When the last stone was placed, Shah Jehan sent for the architect and went with him to the top of the mausoleum.
[Pg 94]"He comes now and then," said the baboo, who was our guide; but on my pressing the question this "now and then" remained vague, no day or week could be named.
"Five—six," said the baboo, hesitating; then,[Pg 194] seeing that I was quite incredulous, "Sometimes more," he added.In the evening, in the open street, we came upon a circle of bystanders all beating time, while in the midst four little girls were dancing, wearing the sarong, but naked to the waist. They leaned very much over to the right, resting the right elbow on the groin, clapping the right hand with the left, and throwing back the left leg. All four did the same, round and round, and this went on again and again without a pause, under the pale light of the stars filtering through an enormous banyan tree. Occasionally a woman among the crowd would give a slow, long-drawn cry, and the dancers answered in very short notes, piercingly shrill.
King Zainulmulook has lost his sight, and can recover it only if someone will bring to him a miraculous flower from the garden of Bakaoli. His four sons set out in search of it. Zainulmulook has a fifth son, named Tazulmulook. At the birth of this child the king has had his horoscope cast by the astrologers of the palace, who declared that the king would become blind if he should see his son before his twelfth year; but hunting one day the king has met Tazulmulook, who was walking in the forest, and has lost his sight.The external decoration is broken by broad flat panels, incised in places so delicately that the patterns look like faded fresco, scarcely showing against the gold-coloured ground of yellow stone. In front of the Kailas stand two tall obelisks, carved from top to bottom with an extraordinary feeling for proportion which makes them seem taller still, and two gigantic elephants, guardians of the sanctuary,[Pg 42] heavy, massive images of stone, worm-eaten by time into tiny holes and a myriad wrinkles, producing a perfect appearance of the coarse skin of the living beast.Stones flying, sticks thrown—at a little pariah girl, whose shadow as she passed had defiled the food of a Brahmin. He merely threw away the rice, which the dogs soon finished; but the bystanders who had witnessed the girl's insolence in going so near the holy man—she so base and unworthy—flew at the unhappy creature, who ran away screaming, abandoning a load of wood she was carrying on her head.
In the evening the priest would say prayers over the couple—the bride being probably about five—and the bridegroom would stay with the little bride's parents. Next day she would spend with the boy's parents, and after that they would both go back to their lessons and probably never meet again, unless they were very near neighbours, till he, having attained the age of fifteen, they would be really married.In the heart of Girgaum, one of the suburbs of Bombay, at the end of a street, under a large areca palm an old man was selling grain and rice in open baskets. A whole flight of bickering sparrows settled on his merchandise, and he looked at them with happy good humour without scaring them away.In front of the palace, beds filled with common plants familiar in every European garden fill the place of honour; they are very rare, no doubt, in[Pg 54] these latitudes, and surprising amid the gorgeous hedges of wild bougainvillea that enclose the park.
Then the procession, with music, makes its way back to the bridegroom's house. On the threshold the priest says one more short prayer over the bowed heads of the newly-married couple, and at last the whole party go into the room, where the guests take their places at the long tables.
The god having been placed in the shrine, which was enormously heavy, and took a hundred men to carry it, the procession set out. First two drums, then some children burning coloured fire and whirling fireworks round above their heads. Three oxen with housings of velvet, richly embroidered in gold, carried tom-tom drummers, and behind them came the priests and the god, hardly visible among the lights and flowers on the shrine. A breath of awe fell on the crowd as the divinity came by; they bowed in adoration with clasped hands and heads bent very low.The whole mausoleum, the terrace on which it stands, the four minarets as tall as light-towers, are all in dead white marble, the whiteness of milk and opal, glistening with nacreous tints in the brilliant sunshine under a sky pale with heat and dust.
The other victim, the night watchman of a neighbouring village, was suspected of treachery towards the hill-tribes in a recent skirmish. One ball through the head had killed him, and his arms had been cut off.详情
Copyright © 2020