Observations on the Mussulmauns of India
Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali

Part 8 out of 10

'Drawing near to Saadie, the Jew accosted him with, "Who are you,
friend,--and whence do you come?" Saadie's voice dispelled every doubt of
the Jew, their eyes met, and in a few seconds they were clasped in each
other's warm embrace, the Jew lamenting, in terms of warm sympathy, the
degradation of the immortalized poet, and sainted man; whilst he in turn
checked his friend's murmurings, by expressing his conviction that the
wisdom of God knew best how to lead his confiding servants to himself,
declaring his present occupation did not render him discontented.

'The Jew went without delay to the superintendant of the public works, and
inquired the sum he would be willing to receive in lieu of the labourer
whom he desired to purchase, carefully avoiding the name of Saadie lest
the ransom should be proportioned to the real value of such a slave. The
man agreed to take one hundred and ten pieces of silver (each in value
half a dollar). The sum was promptly paid, and the Jew received an order
to take away his purchase when and wherever he pleased. He lost no time in
possessing himself of his treasured friend, conveyed him to the city,
where he clothed him in apparel better suited to his friend, and on the
same day Saadie accompanied the benevolent Israelite to his country
residence, some miles distant from the city of Aleppo.

'Arrived here, Saadie enjoyed uninterrupted peace of mind for a long
season, his heart bounding with gratitude to God, who had, he felt assured,
worked out his deliverance from slavery and its consequences; and as may
be supposed from such a heart, Saadie was truly sensible of the benevolent
Jew's kindness, with whom he was constrained to remain a considerable time,
for the Jew indeed loved him as a brother, and always grieved at the bare
probability that they might ever again be separated; and desiring to
secure his continuance with him during their joint lives, he proposed that
Saadie should accept his only daughter in marriage with a handsome dowry.

'Saadie resisted his friend's offer for some time, using arguments which,
instead of altering his friend's purpose, only strengthened the desire to
secure this amiable man as the husband of his daughter. Saadie assured him
he was sensible of the offence his friend might give to the opinions of
his people, by the proposal of uniting his daughter to a man of another
faith, and that their prejudices would bring innumerable evils on his good
name by such an alliance. "No," said Saadie, "I cannot consent to such a
measure. I have already been a great trouble to you, if not a burden; let
me depart, for I cannot consent to draw down on the head of my friend the
censures of his tribe, and, perhaps, in after-time, disappointments. I
have, indeed, no desire to marry; my heart and mind are otherways engaged."

'The friends often discussed the subject ere Saadie gave way to the
earnest solicitations of the Jew, to whose happiness the grateful heart of
Saadie was about to be sacrificed when he reluctantly consented to become
the husband of the young Jewess. The marriage ceremony was performed
according to the Jewish rites, when Saadie was overpowered with the
caresses and munificence of his friend and father-in-law.

'A very short season of domestic peace resulted to him from the alliance.
The young lady had been spoiled by the over-indulgence of her doating
parent, her errors of temper and mind having never been corrected. Proud,
vindictive, and arrogant, she played the part of tyrant to her meek and
faultless husband. She strove to rouse his temper by taunts, revilings,
and indignities that required more than mortal nature to withstand
replying to, or bear with composure.

'Still Saadie went on suffering in silence; although the trials he had to
endure undermined his health, he never allowed her father to know the
misery he had entailed on himself by this compliance with his well-meant
wishes; nor was the secret cause of his altered appearance suspected by
the kind-hearted Jew, until by common report his daughter's base behaviour
was disclosed to the wretched father, who grieved for the misfortunes he
had innocently prepared for the friend of his heart.

'Saadie, it is said, entreated the good Jew to allow of a divorce from the
Jewess, which, however, was not agreed to; and when his sufferings had so
increased that his tranquillity was destroyed, fearing the loss of reason
would follow, he fled from Aleppo in disguise and retraced his steps to
Shiraaz, where in solitude his peace of mind was again restored, for there
he could converse with his merciful Creator and Protector uninterrupted by
the strife of tongues.'

[1] _Hudhud_, the lapwing, hoopoe. In the Koran (xxvii. 20, with Sale's
note) the bird is described as carrying a letter from Solomon to the
Queen of Sheba. On another occasion, when Solomon was lost in the
desert, he sent it to procure for him water for ablution.

[2] The term _sufi_, derived from _suf_, 'wool', in allusion to
the garments worn by them, was applied in the second century of Islam
to men or women who adopted the ascetic or quietistic way of life. See
Hughes, _Dictionary of Islam_, 608 ff.: D.B. Macdonald, _The
Development of Muslim Theology_, 1903: E.G. Browne, _A Year Amongst
the Persians_, 1893.

[3] If a Sufi becomes, by devotion, attracted to God, he is called
_Salik-i-majzub_, 'an attracted devotee': if he practises
complete devotion, but is not influenced by the special attraction of
God, he is called _Salik_, 'a devotee' (Hughes, _Dictionary of
Islam_, 612: Jaffur Shurreef, _Qanoon-e-Islam_, 197).

[4] See p. 255.

[5] See p. 255.

[6] Gulistan.


The Soofies continued.--Eloy Bauxh.--Assembly of Saalik
Soofies.--Singular exhibition of their zeal.--Mystery of Soofeism.--The
terms Soofie and Durweish explained.--Anecdote of Shah Sherif.--Shah
Jee and the Paltaan.--Dialogue on death between Shah Jee and his
wife.--Exemplary life of his grandson.--Anecdote of a Mussulmaun
lady.--Reflections on modern Hindoos.--Anecdotes of Shah ood Dowlah
and Meer Nizaam...Page 348

My last Letter introduced the Soofies to your notice, the present shall
convey a further account of some of these remarkable characters who have
obtained so great celebrity among the Mussulmauns of India, as to form the
subjects of daily conversation. I have heard some rigid Mussulmauns
declare they discredit the mysterious knowledge a Soofie is said to
possess, yet the same persons confess themselves staggered by the singular
circumstances attending the practice of Soofies living in their vicinity,
which they have either witnessed or heard related by men whose veracity
they cannot doubt; amongst the number I may quote an intimate acquaintance
of my husband's, a very venerable Syaad of Lucknow, who relates an
anecdote of Saalik Soofies, which I will here introduce.

'Meer Eloy Bauxh,[1] a Mussulmaun of distinguished piety, who has devoted
a long life to the service of God, and in doing good to his fellow-men,
tells me, that being curious to witness the effect of an assembly of
Saalik Soofies, he went with a party of friends, all equally disposed with
himself to be amused by the eccentricities of the Soofies, whose practice
they ridiculed as at least absurd,--to speak in no harsher terms of their
pretended supernatural gifts.

'This assembly consisted of more than a hundred persons, who by agreement
met at a large hall in the city of Lucknow, for the purpose of
"remembering the period of absence", as they term the death of a highly
revered Soofie of their particular class. The room being large, and free
admittance allowed to all persons choosing to attend the assembly, Meer
Eloy Bauxh and his party entered, and seated themselves in a convenient
place for the more strict scrutiny of the passing-scene.

'The service for the occasion began with a solemn strain by the musical
performers, when one of the inspired Soofies commenced singing in a voice
of remarkable melody. The subject was a hymn of praise to the great
Creator, most impressively composed in the Persian language. Whilst the
Soofie was singing, one of the elders in particular,--though all seemed
sensibly affected by the strain,--rose from his seat, in what the Soofies
themselves call, "the condition changed," which signifies, by what I could
learn, a religious ecstasy. This person joined in the same melody which
the other Soofie had begun, and at the same time accompanied the music by
capering and sobbing in the wildest manner imaginable. His example had the
effect of exciting all the Soofies on whom his eyes were cast to rise also
and join him in the hymn and dance.

'The singularity of this scene seemed, to Meer Eloy Bauxh and his party,
so ludicrous that they could not refrain from laughing in an audible
manner, which attracted the attention of the principal Soofie engaged in
the dance, who cast his eyes upon the merry party, not, however,
apparently in anger. Strange as he confesses it to be,--and even now it
seems more like a dream than a reality,--at the moment he met the eye of
the Soofie, there was an instant glow of pure happiness on his heart, a
sensation of fervent love to God, which he had never before felt, in his
most devout moments of prayer and praise; his companions were similarly
affected, their eyes filled with tears, their very souls seemed elevated
from earth to heaven in the rapture of their songs of adoration, which
burst forth from their lips in unison with the whole Soofie assemblage.

'Before they had finished their song of praise, which lasted a
considerable time, the chief of the Soofie party sunk exhausted on the
carpet, whilst the extraordinary display of devotion continued in full
force on the whole assembly, whether Soofies or mere visitors, for many
minutes after the principal devotee had fallen to the floor. Water was
then procured, and animation gradually returned to the poor exhausted
devotee, but with considerable delay. Meer Eloy Bauxh says he waited until
the Soofie was perfectly restored to sense, and saw him taken to his place
of abode; he then returned to his own home to meditate on the events of a
day he never can forget.'

Soofeism, it appears, (by the accounts I have received,) is a mystery; the
secret of which can only be imparted by the professor to such persons as
have been prepared for its reception, by a course of religious instruction.
No one can be initiated into the mystery who has not first renounced all
worldly vanities and ambitious projects--who is not sincerely repentant of
past offences--who has not acquired perfect humility of heart, and an
entire resignation to the Divine Will--a lively faith in God, and a firm
determination to love and serve Him, from a conviction, 'That God alone is
worthy to be served, loved, and worshipped by His creatures.' Thus
prepared, the person is to receive instruction from a Calipha, (head or
leader of the Soofies), who directs the pupil in certain exercises of the
heart, which constitute the secrets of their profession. What these
exercises are, I am not competent to give an opinion, but judging by the
way a real Soofie conducts himself, it may be presumed his practices are
purely religious; for I am assured that he is devoted to all good ways;
that he carefully avoids worldly vanities, and every species of temptation
and alluring gratification of the senses; that he is incessant in prayer,
and in fasting severe; free from all prejudice, as regards the belief or
persuasion of other men, so long as they worship God alone; regarding all
mankind as brothers, himself the humblest of the race; claiming no merit
for the ascendancy he has acquired over earthly wishes, he gives glory
alone to God, whom he loves and worships.

All the Durweish are of the Mussulmaun persuasion. Many are devout
Durweish, who are, nevertheless, unacquainted with the mystery of Soofeism;
and, to use their own words, (by which the Natives distinguish them),
'Every real Soofie is undoubtedly a Durweish, but all Durweishes are not
Soofies,' although their lives may be devoted much in the same holy way,
both in the practice of religion and abstinence from worldly enjoyments;
and if the writers on these subjects may be believed, many wonderful cures
have been effected by the prayers of the devout Durweish.

There are some pretenders, I am told, who put themselves forth to the
world in the character of a Durweish, who are not, in fact, entitled to
the appellation,--hypocritical devotees, who wear the outward garb of
humility, without the feeling of that inward virtue which is the
characteristic principle of the true Durweish. The distinction between the
real and the pretended Durweish, may be illustrated by the following
anecdote which I have received from the mouth of Meer Hadjee Shaah:--

'In the last century,' he says, 'there lived at or near Delhi, a very
pure-minded Durweish, named Shah Sherif ood deen Mah-mood,[2] (he was
known in his latter years by several of my aged acquaintance at Lucknow,
and his son and grandson both lived, at different periods, in that city).
This person forsook the world whilst in the prime of manhood, and devoted
himself to prayer, fasting, and good deeds. He was esteemed the most
humble-minded of human beings, and his devotion to his Maker sincere and
ardent. His principal abode was Delhi, where his wife and children also
resided, to whom he was tenderly attached; yet so tempered were his
affections, that he never allowed any earthly endearments to interfere
with his devotions, or to separate him from his love to his Creator.

'It was announced by the Soofies and Durweish, that on a certain day a
festival or assembly of holy men would meet for the service of God, at the
Jummah musjud[3] (Friday mosque), situated in the city of Delhi.

'Shah Sherif ood deen was disposed to attend the meeting, which consisted
of the heads or superiors of several classes of the religious, with their
disciples and followers. At this meeting, as was expected, were assembled
the Soofies, Durweish, and religious mendicants of all ranks and
conditions, from those clothed in gold-cloth and brocade, down to the
almost naked Faakeer;[4] and amongst the latter number may be classed the
humble-minded Shah Sherif ood deen. A small wrapper girt about his loins
by a girdle of black wool spun into small ropes, and a similar article
wound round his head, with a coarse white sheet over his shoulders for his
summer apparel; and a black blanket to shelter his naked limbs from the
cold winter, formed his sole wardrobe.

'This holy man took his station in the most humble spot of the assembly,
"sitting amongst the shoes" of the more esteemed or more aspiring
personages. As there was nothing remarkable in his appearance, he remained
unobserved, or unnoticed by the multitude present. Many of the assembly
made great display of their right to pre-eminence, by the costliness of
their robes, the splendour of their equipage, and the number of their
servants; striving to command respect, if possible, by their superior
external habiliments.

'This meeting had been convened to celebrate the death of one of their
order, which had occurred some years prior. After prayers had been read,
suited to the occasion, a poor man, whose very appearance might excite
compassion, addressed the heads of the devotees with folded hands,
beseeching them, who were accounted so truly holy in their lives, to offer
up a prayer for him who had so long suffered severe affliction, by reason
of his neck and face being drawn awry, from a paralytic attack, or some
like calamity. The sufferer said, "I am a poor merchant, and have a large
family dependant altogether on my personal exertions for support; but,
alas! this illness prevents me from attending to the business of life. I
am wasting both in body and in substance through this grievous affliction."

'The sick man's address was heard by the whole assembly in silence; many
present, both Soofies and Durweish, were really pious men, and were
willing to allow the person who seemed to be the head of this assembly, to
intercede in behalf of the sufferer. To him they all looked, expecting he
would commence a prayer in which they might join; but he, it is suspected,
conscious of his own duplicity in assuming only the character of a Soofie
without the virtues, was anxious to dismiss the supplicant, with a promise
that prayer should certainly be made for him in private, adding, "This is
not a proper season for your application; it is disrespectful to disturb
our meeting with your requests; we came not here to listen to your
importunities, but on more important, business."

'"True, my Lord," answered the afflicted man; "I am sensible of all you
say; but, I do assure you, private prayer has been tried for my relief by
many individuals of your holy profession, and I have still to mourn my
calamity. I thought when so many holy persons were assembled together, the
united prayer--in accordance with our Prophet's commands--offered up at
this time, would certainly be received at the throne of Mercy. I entreat
then, at the hands of this venerable assembly, the aid I require."

'The pretended Soofie looked haughtily on the sick man, and bade him
retire to his home; he should have a prayer offered, he might depend, but
it must be in private. The sufferer was still importunate, and urged every
argument he could command, to induce the inexorable Soofie to allow the
present assembly to offer a prayer on the spot for his recovery; but
nothing he could urge availed with the proud Soofie, who at length grew
angry even to the use of bitter words.

'Shah Sherif ood deen observed in silence the scene before him; at length
he ventured (in the most respectful terms) to suggest to the heads of the
assembly the propriety of vouchsafing the poor man's request; and hinted
that, the prayer of some one more pure of heart than the rest might
effectually reach the throne of Mercy in behalf of the supplicant.

'"And pray," said the leader, rising haughtily, "who gave you leave to
suggest or recommend to your superiors in knowledge and virtue? Is not our
determination sufficient, that you, insignificant being! should presume to
teach us what we ought to do?--you can know nothing of the Durweish's
powerful prayers, nor the mystery of a Soofie's holy calling."

'"I am, indeed, a very ignorant and unworthy creature," replied Shah
Sherif, "and acknowledge my great presumption in daring to speak before so
many of my superiors in knowledge and virtue; but we are told in our
hudeeths (true speech) that the prayers of many hearts may prevail in a
good cause, whilst singly offered the same prayer might fail," The proud
Soofie's anger seemed to increase as the Durweish spoke; he bade him keep
silence, and reviled him with many bitter words, which the good Shah
received with his usual humility and forbearance. At length, the Shah
looked attentively at the Soofie, who had thus rebuked and insulted him,
and said, "I will believe, Sir, you are the Soofie you aspire to be
thought among your fellow-men, if you will immediately offer up your
single prayer, by which the suffering man may be relieved; for we know
such prayers have been answered by the gracious Giver of all good."

'"What do you know of the powerful prayer of the Soofie?" replied the
proud man, "I suspect you to be an impostor in your humble exterior."--"No,
" said the Shah, "I am but a poor beggar, and a humble, the very humblest
servant of God."--"You pretend to much humility," retorted the Soofie,
"suppose we see one of your miraculous works in answer to your prayer; it
would please us to witness what you can do."

'Shah Sherif ood deen raised his eyes to Heaven, his heart went with his
prayer, and in a dignified manner he stretched forth his hand towards the
afflicted person. The man was instantly restored; then drawing his hand
into a direct line with the proud Soofie, and pointing his finger to him,
he said, "What more, friend, dost them now require of me? The man's
affliction is removed, but the power which is delegated to me rests still
on my finger; command me, to whom shall I present it; to you, or any one
of your people?"

'The proud Soofie hung his head abashed and confounded, he had not power
to answer. The Shah observed his confusion and said, "It is not well to
pray for relief to one poor weak fellow-creature, and then to afflict
another; to the mountain's retreat, I will consign this malady." Then
shaking his hand as if to relieve himself from a heavy weight, he uttered
in a solemn tone, "Go to the mountains!" and resumed that humble seat he
had first chosen with a smile of composure beaming on his countenance.'
This miracle is actually believed by the Natives to be true.

Shah Sherif ood deen, say the people who know him, spent the principal
part of each day and night in silent prayer and meditation; no one ever
ventured to intrude within his small sanctuary, but hundreds of people
would assemble outside the building, in front of which he occasionally sat
for an hour, but scarcely ever conversed with any one of his visitors.
During the time he was thus seated, he generally raised his eyes once or
twice, and looked round on the faces of his audience. It was generally
remarked, that no one could meet the eye of Shah Jee--that familiar
appellation by which he was known--without an indescribable sensation of
reverential awe, which irresistibly compelled them to withdraw their eyes.
The talismanic power of Shah Jee's eyes had become proverbial throughout
the city of Delhi. A certain Pattaan,[5] however, of warlike appearance, a
man remarkable for his bravery, declared amongst his associates that he
would certainly out-stare Shah Jee, if ever they met, which he was
resolved should be the very first opportunity; he accordingly went with
his companions at a time when this Durweish was expected to appear in

The Pattaan was seated on the floor with many other people; when the Shah
issued from his sanctuary, the people rose to make their salaams, which
Shah Jee either did not, or would not observe, but seated himself
according to his custom on the mat which had been spread for him; where,
his eyes fixed on the ground, he seemed for some time to be wholly
absorbed in silent meditation. At length, raising his head, he turned his
face to the long line of spectators, saluting with his eyes each person in
the row, until he came to the Pattaan, who, according to his vow, kept his
large eyes fixed on the Durweish. Shah Jee went on with his survey, and a
second time cast a glance along the whole line, not omitting the Pattaan
as before, whose gaze, his companions observed, was as firmly settled on
the Durweish as at the first. A third time the eyes of the Shah went round
the assembly and rested again on the Pattaan.

Observing the immoveable eyes of their Pattaan acquaintance, the visitors
smiled at each other, and secretly gave him credit for a piety and
pureness of heart which he was not before supposed to be blessed with;
'How else,' said they, 'would he have been able to withstand the
penetrating glance of the revered Durweish.' Shah Jee rose from his seat,
and retired, thus giving to the company a signal for their departure from
the place.

The associates of the Pattaan congratulated him on his success, and
inquired by what stratagem he had so well succeeded in fulfilling his
promise; but his eyes being still fixed in a wild stare, he replied not to
his questioners. They rallied him, and tried by a variety of means to
dissolve his reverie; but the Pattaan was insensible, all the boasted
energies of his mind having forsaken him. His friends were now alarmed at
his abstractedness, and with considerable difficulty removed him from the
place to his own home, where his family received him, for the first time,
with grief, as he was their whole stay and support, and the kind head of a
large family.

The Pattaan continued staring in the same state throughout the night and
following day, talking wildly and incoherently. 'The Pattaan is paid for
his presumption,' said some; others recommended application to be made to
the Durweish, Shah Jee, who could alone remove the calamity. The wife and
mother, with many female dependants, resolved on pleading his case with
the benevolent Shah Jee; but as access to him would be difficult, they
conceived the idea of making their petition through the agency of the wife
of the Durweish, to whom they accordingly went in a body at night, and
related their distress, and the manner in which they supposed it to have
originated, declaring, in conclusion, that as the excellent Durweish had
been pleased to cast this affliction on their guardian, they must become
slaves to his family, since bread could no longer be provided by the
labour of him who had hitherto been their support.

The wife of the Durweish comforted the women by kind words, desiring them
to wait patiently until her dear lord could be spoken with, as she never
ventured to intrude on his privacy at an improper moment, however urgent
the necessity. After a few hours' delay, passed with impatient feeling by
the group of petitioning females, they were at length repaid by the voice
of Shah Jee. His wife going to the door of his apartment, told him of the
circumstance attending the Pattaan, and the distressed condition of the
females of his family, who came to supplicate his aid in restoring their
relative to reason; adding, 'What commands will you be pleased to convey
by me? What remedy do you propose for the suffering Pattaan?'

The Durweish answered, 'His impure heart, then, could not withstand the
reflected light. Well, well! tell the poor women to be comforted, and as
they desire to have the Pattaan restored to his former state, they need
only purchase some sweetmeats from the bazaar, which the man being induced
to eat, he will speedily be restored to his wonted bodily and mental

Upon hearing the commands of Shah Jee, the women speedily departed,
ejaculating blessings on the Durweish, his wife, and family. On their
return they purchased the sweetmeats and presented them to the Pattaan,
who devoured them with eagerness, and immediately afterwards his former
senses returned, to the no small joy of his family circle. They inquired
of him, what had been the state of his feelings during the time he was in
that insensible state from which he was now happily relieved? He replied,
that the first gaze of the Durweish had fixed his eyes so firmly that he
could by no means close or withdraw them from the object; the second
glance detached his thoughts from every earthly vanity or wish; and that
the third look from the same holy person, fixed him in unspeakable joys,
transports pure and heavenly, which continued until he had eaten the
sweetmeats they had presented, with a kind intention, he had no doubt, but
which nevertheless, must be ever regretted by him whilst life remained;
for no earthly joy could be compared with that which he had experienced in
his trance.

The Durweish Shah Sherif ood deen, was asked by some one why he had
selected the bazaar sweetmeats as a remedy in the Pattaan's case? He
answered, 'Because I knew the man's heart was corrupt. The light which had
been imparted to him could alone be removed by his partaking of the
dirtiest thing mortals hold good for food, and surely there cannot be any
thing more dirty than the bazaar sweetmeats, exposed as they are to the
flies and dust of the city; and how filthily they are manufactured
requires not my aid in exposing.'

This Durweish is said,--and believed by the good Mussulmaun people I have
conversed with,--to have foreseen the hour when he should be summoned from
this life into eternity; and three weeks prior to the appointed time, he
endeavoured to fortify the minds of his wife and family, to bear with
resignation that separation he had been warned should take place. He
assembled his affectionate relatives on the occasion, and thus addressed
them, 'My dear family, it is the will of God that we should part; on such
a day (mentioning the time), my soul will take flight from its earthly
mansion. Be ye all comforted, and hereafter, if ye obey God's holy law, ye
shall meet me again in a blessed eternity.'

As may be supposed, the females wept bitterly; they were distressed,
because the good Durweish had ever been kind, indulgent, affectionate, and
tender in all the relative situations he held amongst them. He tried many
soothing arguments to comfort and console them for some hours, but without
in the least reducing their grief, or moderating their bewailings: they
could not, and would not be comforted.

'Well,' said the Durweish, 'since the separation I have predicted causes
you all so much sorrow, it would be better, perhaps, that we part not. I
have thought of another method to avoid the pangs of separation; I will
offer my prayers this night to the gracious Giver of all good, that He may
be pleased to permit ye all to bear me company in death.'

'Oh! stay your prayer!' said the wife of the Durweish; 'this must not be;
for if we all die at once, who will perform the funeral rites, and deposit
our bodies in the earth?' The Durweish smiled at his wife's objection, and
answered, 'This is of no consequence to us, dear wife: the body may be
likened to a garment that is thrown off when old; the soul having worn its
earthly covering for a season, at the appointed time shakes off the
perishable piece of corruption, to enter into a purer state of existence.
It matters not if the body have a burial or not; the soul takes no
cognizance of the clay it has quitted. Yet, if it be a matter of great
consideration with you, be assured that many pious men and Durweish, whose
respect we have enjoyed in life, will not fail to give decent interment to
the remains of those they have loved and respected.'

This for a moment baffled the wife in her argument; but presently she
persuasively urged that her daughters were all young, that they had as yet
seen but little of this world, and therefore it would be cruel to take
them away so soon; they must desire to see more of this life ere they
entered on another state of existence. 'Oh, my wife,' said the Durweish,
'you reason badly; this life hath no joys to be compared with those which
the righteous man's hopes lead him to expect in the world beyond the grave.
I will assuredly make my promised prayer, if I find a semblance of
remaining grief upon separating from me at the appointed time, for our
removal to perfect happiness.'

'No, no!' was cried by all the assembled family; 'do let us remain a
little longer here, we are not in a hurry to quit this world.'--'Well,
well, be satisfied then,' responded the Durweish, 'if such is your desire;
and hereafter let me not hear a sigh or a murmur from one of you, for my
appointed time is drawing to a close; if you will not accompany me, let me,
at least, depart in peace.'

The people who relate this (and I have heard the anecdote from many) add,
that the Durweish Shah Sherif ood deen Mah-mood died at the close of the
third week, and on the day and hour he had predicted.

A grandson of this Durweish I have been writing about is still living in
India, remarkable for a very retentive memory and propriety of life. I
have not met with this gentleman during my residence in India, but have
often heard his name mentioned with respect by Meer Hadjee Shaah who knew
him well. He says that this Syaad, when but a boy, learned the whole
Khoraun by heart[6] in the short space of forty days; he adds, that this
person is exemplary in his life, and in his habits and manners humble;
that he is truly a servant of God; rejects the mystic tenets of Soofieism;
possesses an enlightened mind, and is a Moollah or Doctor of the
Mussulmaun law. I have heard many singular anecdotes of his life, proving
his disregard for riches, honours, and the vain pursuits of the
worldly-minded. If I recollect right, he once was engaged in the
confidential office of Moonshie to a highly talented gentleman at Fort
William, from which employment he retired and took up his abode for some
time at Lucknow; from whence, it was said, he went to Hydrabaad, where, it
is probable, he may still be found in the exercise of a religious course
of life. His name is respected by all the good men of his own persuasion,
with whom I have been most intimately acquainted.

Conceiving the subject may be interesting to my friends, I will not offer
any apology for introducing to your notice a female character of great
merit, whose death occurred during my residence in the vicinity of her
abode. I was induced to make memorandums of the circumstances which
brought the knowledge of her virtues more immediately before the public.

Maulvee Meer Syaad Mahumud[7] succeeded, on the death of his father, in
1822, to the exalted position amongst Mussulmauns of head leader and
expounder of the Mahumudan law in the city of Lucknow; he is a person of
unassuming manners and extreme good sense, is an upright, honest-hearted,
religious man, meriting and receiving the respect and good opinion of all
his countrymen capable of appreciating the worthiness of his general
deportment. He is esteemed the most learned person of the present age
amongst Asiatic scholars; and occupies his time in study and devotion, and
in giving gratuitous instruction to youth, at stated hours, in those laws
which he makes his own rule of life. Neither is the good Maulvee's fame
confined to the city in which he sojourns, as may be gathered from the
following anecdote, which exhibits the upright principles of this worthy
man, at the same time that it discloses the character of a very amiable
female, whose charity was as unbounded as her memory is revered in

'The late Nuwaub of Furrukhabaad[8] was first married to a lady of birth
and good fortune, Villoiettee Begum,[9] by whom he was not blessed with a
son; but he had other wives, one of whom bore him an heir, who at the
present time enjoys the musnud of his father.

'Villoiettee Begum was beautiful in person, and possessed a heart of the
most benevolent and rare kind; her whole delight was centred in the
exercises of those duties which her religion inculcated; she spent much of
her time in prayer, in acquiring a knowledge of the Khoraun, in acts of
kindness to her fellow-creatures, and in strict abstinence.

'It was her unvaried custom at meals before she touched a morsel herself,
to have twelve portions of food, selected from the choicest viands
provided for her use, set apart for as many poor people; and when they had
been served, she humbly and sparingly partook of the meal before her. She
was possessed of great wealth, yet never expended any portion of it in the
extravagances of dress; indeed, so humble was her appearance, that she
might have been mistaken for the meanest of her slaves or domestics. It
was her usual custom, whenever she purchased new clothing for her own wear,
to lay in a large store for the poor; and it is affirmed, by those who
were long intimate with the family, that a supplicant was never known to
pass her door without relief. She even sought out, with the aid of a
faithful domestic, the modest poor who were restrained by their feelings
from intruding their necessities; and her liberal donations were
distributed in so kind a manner, that even the pride of birth could never
feel distressed when receiving her charitable assistance.

'This lady was much attached to the duties of her religion, and delighted
in acquiring instruction from righteous persons of her own faith. She
showered favours on all the poor who were reported to live in the fear of
God; indeed, such was the liberality, benevolence, and unvaried charity of
this good lady, that the news of her death was received by hundreds of
people as their greatest earthly calamity. The example of this lady's
character is the more enhanced by reflecting on the retired way in which
she was reared and lived, restrained by the customs of her people within
the high walls of a zeenahnah, without the advantages of a liberal
education or the immediate society of intelligent people. She seems, by
all accounts, to have been a most perfect pattern of human excellence.

'In forming her will (Villoiettee Begum had been a widow several years
before her death), she does not appear to have wished a single thing to be
done towards perpetuating her name,--as is usual with the great, in
erecting lofty domes over the deposited clay of the Mussulmaun,--but her
immense wealth was chiefly bequeathed in charitable gifts. The holy and
the humble were equally remembered in its distribution. She had been
acquainted with the virtues of the good Maulvee of Lucknow, to whom she
left a handsome sum of money for his own use, and many valuable articles
to fit up the Emaum-baarah for the service of Mahurrum, with a, desire
that the same should be conveyed to him as soon after her death as
convenient. Her vakeel (agent) wrote to Meer Syaad Mahumud very soon after
the lady's death, to apprise him of the bequest Villoiettee Begum had
willed to him, and at the same time forwarded the portable articles to him
at Lucknow.

'The Maulvee was much surprised, and fancied there must be some mistake in
the person for whom this legacy was intended, as the lady herself was
entirely unknown to him, and an inhabitant of a station so remote from his
own residence as not likely ever to have heard of him. He, however,
replied to the vakeel, and wrote also to a gentleman in the neighbourhood,
desiring to have a strict inquiry instituted before he could venture to
accept the riches of this lady's bounty, presuming that even if he was the
person alluded to in her will, that the Begum must have intended him as
her almoner to the poor of Lucknow. The good, upright Maulvee acted on the
integrity of his heart and desired a strict scrutiny might be instituted
into the will of the deceased, which was accordingly made, and he was
assured in reply, that Villoiettee Begum had been long acquainted with his
worth, and in her liberal bequest she had decidedly intended the money for
his sole use and benefit, in testimony of her respect for his virtuous
character. The Maulvee again wrote and requested to be informed by those
most intimate with the Begum's way of life, whether she had left
unperformed any of the duties incumbent on a member of the faithful, as
regards zuckhaut[10], pilgrimage, the fast, &c.? which not having
accomplished, and having ample means, he felt himself bound, in the
situation he held, to devote her legacy to the purpose of such duties by
proxy (which their law commands) in her name. He was in reply assured that
the good Begum had not omitted any part of her duty; she had regularly
applied zuckhaut, duly performed the fast, had paid the expenses for poor
pilgrims to Mecca (her substitutes); and not until all the scruples of the
just Maulvec had been removed would he hear of, or accept the Begum's

The anecdote I have now given will serve to illustrate the character of
some good people of Hindoostaun of the present day; indeed, the veneration
and respect paid by all classes to those men who lead religious lives, is
but little changed from the earlier pages of the Mussulmaun history. I
have just met with a Durweish anecdote, of former times, that may be worth
transcribing, as I have received it from Meer Hadjee Shaah, whose aid I am
so much indebted to for subjects with which to amuse my friends.

'Shaah ood Dowlah[11] was a Durweish who flourished in the reign of King
Shah Jaluui at Delhi, but whose fame is known throughout India to the
present day. The Durweish was remarkable for his activity of body. It is
related, that he was often to be seen at prayer in Delhi, and in three
hours after he had transported himself eighty miles oil without any
visible assistance but his own personal activity on foot. This
extraordinary rapidity of movement rendered him an object of veneration;
and the general belief was, that he was highly favoured of Heaven, and
gifted with supernatural power; the life he led was purely religious, with
a total disregard of earthly riches.

'The King, Shah Jahan, was a very sensible person, and a great admirer of
all that is counted good and excellent in his fellow-men; he was
particularly friendly to such men as the Durweish, or others who devoted
their lives to religious exercises. He had often heard of Shah ood Dowlah,
without ever meeting with him, and on hearing of some singular acts of
this Durweish, he was desirous of seeing him, and gave orders accordingly
to his Minister, that messengers should be sent in search of the holy man,
but as often as they appeared before the Durweish's hut he was invisible;
this statement even added to the King's curiosity. On a certain day the
King was seated on the story of his palace which overlooked the town and
the outskirts beyond the walls, in conversation with his Minister and
favourites, when the Durweish was espied at no great distance standing on
the broadway; which, when the King knew, he desired messengers might be
dispatched to convey the holy man to his presence. "Your royal will shall
be obeyed", replied the Minister; "but your Majesty must be aware that the
extent of the circuit from the palace to the outer gate is so great that
long before a slave can get to that road, Shah ood Dowlah will be beyond
the reach of our summons. With all due submission to your Majesty's better
judgement, would it not be more prudent to call him from hence, and
persuade him to ascend the wall in a basket suspended to a rope." The King
agreed, and the Durweish was hailed. "Our King, the Protector of the World,
commands Shah ood Dowlah's attendance?"--The Durweish, looking up at the
summoner, inquired, "Where is the King?"--"In this apartment," he was
answered.--"How am I to get near him? he is too far off: an old man does
not well to climb."--"Wait a minute", replied the servant, "your
conveyance shall be prepared."

'In a few minutes the basket descended from the upper story, by a strong
rope, well secured against the probability of accident. The Durweish,--who
was covered with a chudha[12], or sheet, to keep him from giddiness in the
ascent,--seated himself firmly in the basket, and the servants drew him up
in safety. He was immediately conveyed to the King's apartment; who,
contrary to precedent, rose at his entrance to receive this respected and
much-desired guest.

'"Pray be seated, my friend", said the King, leading him to the most
honoured part of the royal carpet. The Durweish obeyed without a moment's
hesitation, to the astonishment of the Vizier, nobles, courtiers, &c., who
had never before seen a human being seated in the King's presence, not
even one of the most exalted of the nobles. "I have long desired this
happiness," said the King to the Durweish, "that I might converse with you.
"--"Your Majesty is very gracious to the poor Durweish", was responded. "I
hear much of your great virtue and good life," said the King, "from the
world, my subjects."--"They do but flatter the poor Durweish," was his
reply; adding, "none can tell what passes in my heart, when they view only
my face. I am but a poor Durweish."

'"I have many questions to ask you," said the King, "which I hope to have
resolved from your own mouth; but, first, I beg to be informed, what
methods you have used in order to acquire that command over selfish
feelings, which is displayed in your intercourse with the world? and by
what means you have become so enlightened in the ways pleasing to God?"

'The Durweish with a smile of pleasure, and in language calm as respectful,
answered in the following words:--"Your Majesty, the Protector of the
World, was desirous of becoming personally known to the very meanest of
your subjects, the poor Durweish; the opportunity arrived, and you
condescended to let down a line of rope to assist your poor subject in the
ascent to your presence. With equal condescension you have seated me by
your side; and I, the poor Durweish, feel a due sense of the honour
conferred on me. Had I been anxious to gain admittance to the Protector of
the World, many would have been the difficulties to surmount; your castle
is well guarded, your gates innumerable to be passed ere this place could
be reached, and who would have aided the poor Durweish's wishes? But your
Majesty had the will, and the power to effect that will; whilst I, who had
neither, might have exerted myself for ages without effect. Such then, O
King! is the way God draws those whom He wills unto Him. He sees into the
hidden recesses of the human heart, and knows every working of mortal
minds; He has no difficulty to surmount; for to whom in His mercy He
grants evidence of His love, He draws them to Himself in heart, in soul,
in mind, with infinitely less effort than thou hast exerted to draw my
mortal body within thy palace. It is God who in love and mercy throws the
line to man; happy that soul who accepts the offered means, by which he
may ascend!"'

Meer Nizaam ood deen[13] lived many years at Lucknow, where he was much
esteemed by the religious men of the time; some who survived him have
frequently entertained me with anecdotes of that respected Durweish. Out
of the many I have heard detailed by them, I have selected for this place
a few of the most interesting:--

A certain King of Delhi (whose name has escaped my recollection) having
heard of the remarkable piety of this Durweish, expressed a great desire
to see him, and the message was conveyed by a confidential person,
instructed to say to the holy man, that his presence was solicited as a
favour at Court. The person intrusted with the royal message, remarked to
Meer Nizaam, when he had agreed to accompany him, that his mean apparel
was not suited to appear in the presence of majesty, and offered to
provide him with a superior dress.

The Durweish looked steadily in the face of the proposer, and addressed
him, 'Friend! know you not, that clad in these very garments you deride, I
make my daily prayers to Him who is the Creator and Lord of the whole
earth, and all that therein is? If I am not ashamed to appear in the
presence of my God thus habited, canst thou think I shall deem it needful
to change my garments for one who is, at best but the creature of my
Creator? Thinkest thou I would pay more deference to my fellow-man than I
have done to my God? No, no; be assured the clothes I wear will not be
changed for earthly visits.'

This Durweish had a mind and heart so entirely devoted to his Creator, and
was so thoroughly purified from earthly vanity, that his every wish was
granted as soon as it had been formed in his heart, says one of his many
admirers, Meer Eloy Bauxh[14]; who, in proof that he was so gifted, relates
the following anecdote which I give in his own words:--

'One day I was conversing with the Durweish, Meer Nizaam, when he told me
he could bring me to his door, from my own home, at any hour or time he
pleased. I was a little wavering in my belief of his power to do so, and
offered some remarks that indicated my doubts. "Well," said he in reply,
"you shall be convinced, my friend, ere long, I promise you."

'A few evenings after this conversation had been held, I was seated on my
charpoy, in meditation,--my usual practice after the evening namaaz,--when
a sudden impulse seized my mind, that I must immediately go off to the
Durweish who lived at the opposite extremity of this large city (Lucknow).
I prepared to set out, and by the time I was ready, the rain burst forth
in torrents from the over-charged clouds. Still the impulse was so strong
that I cared not for this impediment even, which under ordinary
circumstances would have deterred me from venturing out on a dark evening
of storm; I wrapped myself up in my labaadah[15], took a stick and
umbrella, and sallied forth in great haste. On reaching the outer gate of
my premises, the strong, feeling that had impelled me to proceed, vanished
from my mind, and I was as strongly urged by an opposite impulse to retire
again within my own habitation, where, if I reasoned at all, it was on the
unusual changeableness of my fixed resolution, for I never thought about
the subject of the Durweish's prediction at the time.

'Some few days after this, I paid Meer Nizaam a visit, and after our usual
embrace and salutations were over, he said to me, "Well, my friend, are
you convinced by this time, that I have the power to bring you to me
whenever I wish, by the preparations you made for coming on the evening of
such a day?" (mentioning the time and hour accurately).

'"I remember well my desire to visit you, but why was I deterred from my
purpose?" I asked. The Durweish replied, "Out of pure compassion for the
fatigue and pains it would have given you, had you come so far on such a
night of rain and tempest. My pity for you altered my wishes, and thereby
your purposes. I only wished you to be convinced, and perhaps you are so

Meer Eloy Bauxh often speaks of this circumstance, and declares he has
full confidence that the Durweish in question possessed the power of
influencing the minds of others, or attracting them by his wishes to
appear before him.

'This Durweish was once applied to by a Mussulmaun, who went regularly for
many days in succession, to watch a favourable moment for soliciting
advice and assistance in his then uneasy state of mind. The Mussulmaun's
name was Hummoon[16], since designated Shah, a native of the Upper
Provinces of Hindoostaun, in the Lahore district. Hummoon occasionally
passing near the river, had frequently observed, amongst, the number of
Hindoo women, on their way to and from the place of bathing, one young
female whose charms riveted his attention. He sometimes fancied that the
girl smiled on him; but aware of the strong prejudices of her caste, which
prohibits intercourse even, much less marriage, with men of another
persuasion, he loved therefore without hope; yet he could not resist, as
the opportunity offered, of again and again watching for a glance at the
beautiful Hindoo whose person had won his entire affections. Not a word
had ever passed between them, but he fancied she sometimes returned his
looks of love in her smiles.

'The passion of Hummoon increased daily; he could with difficulty restrain
himself within the prescribed bounds; he longed to address her, and in
vain puzzled his imagination for the proper means to adopt, for he knew
the edict of her caste had placed a barrier between them of an
insurmountable nature. For months he endured all the torments of his
perplexing state, and at last resolved on applying to the good Durweish
for advice and assistance, whose famed powers had been long the subject of
admiration among the Mussulmauns.

Hummoon went daily to the threshold of the Durweish, and seated himself
among the many who, like him, had some favour to ask of the holy man, at
the propitious moment when he chose to be visible and disposed to look
round upon his petitioning visitors. All waited for a look with the most
intense anxiety (for a Durweish does not always notice his courtiers), and
happy did he deem himself who was encouraged by the recognition of his eye,
to offer his petition by word of mouth. Many such applicants had been
favoured by the Durweish, yet Hummoon visited daily without being noticed
by the holy man. At length, however, a look of inquiry was given to the
almost despairing Hummoon; thus encouraged, he folded his hands, and bent
them forward in a supplicating attitude, told his distresses as briefly as
the subject would permit, and concluded his tale of sorrow, by entreating
the Durweish would instruct him in the exercise of some prayer by which he
might be made happy with the object of his love.

'The Durweish listened attentively to Hummoon's tale; and more, he pitied
him, for he felt at all times a due proportion of sympathy for the misery
of his fellow-creatures, and the singularity of Hummoon's case affected
him. He told him he could teach the way to become deserving of having his
wishes in this world granted to him, but more he could not answer for; but
it would take him a considerable time to practise the devotions necessary
to his future peace, which were of the heart, not the mere repetition of a
prayer by the lips. Hummoon readily assured the Durweish, he was willing
to be guided by his advice and instruction; adding, that he would
patiently persevere for any length of time necessary, so that at last his
object might be accomplished.

'Hummoon commenced under the tuition of the Durweish the practice of
devotional exercises. He forsook (as was required of him) all vain
pursuits, worldly desires, or selfish gratifications; day and night was
devoted to religious study and prayer, and such was the good effect of his
perseverance and progressive increase of faith, that at the end of some
few months he had entirely left off thinking of the first object of his
adoration, his whole heart and soul being absorbed in contemplation of,
and devotion to, his Creator. At the end of a year, no trace or
remembrance of his old passion existed; he became a perfect Durweish,
retired to a solitary place, where under the shade of trees he would sit
alone for days and nights in calm composure, abstracted from every other
thought but that of his God, to whom he was now entirely devoted.'

I am told that this Durweish, Hummoon Shah, is still living
in the Lahore province, a pattern of all that is excellent in
virtue and devotion.

[1] Mir Ilahi Bakhsh.

[2] Shah Sharif-ud-din, Mahmud.

[3] Jame' Masjid, the Congregational mosque.

[4] Faqir, a poor man, one poor in the sight of God.

[5] Pathan, a frontier tribe, many of which reside in British India.

[6] Such a person is called Hafiz.

[7] Maulavi Mir Sayyid Muhammad.

[8] Early in the eighteenth century Farrukhabad, now a district of
this name in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, became an
independent State during the decay of the Moghul Empire. The line of
Nawabs was founded by Muhammad Khan, an Afghan of the Bangash
tribe. It was annexed by Oudh in 1749 and ceded to the British in 1801,
on which event the Nawab ceased to be independent. The last Nawa
b joined the rebels in the mutiny of 1857.

[9] Wilayati Begam, the foreign lady.

[10] See p. 67.

[11] Shah-ud-daula.

[12] _Chadar_.

[13] Mir Nizam-ud-din.

[14] Mir Ilahi Bakhsh.

[15] _Labada_, a rain-coat.

[16] Hamun.


Mussulmaun Devotees.--The Chillubdhaars.--Peculiar mode of
worship.--Propitiatory offerings.--Supposed to be invulnerable to
fire.--The Maadhaars or Duffelees.--Character of the
founder.--Pilgrimage to his tomb.--Females afflicted on visiting
it.--Effects attributed to the violation of the sanctuary by a
foreigner.--Superstition of the Natives.--Anecdote of Sheikh Suddoo
and the Genii.--The way of the world exemplified, a Khaunie
(Hindoostaunie fable).--Moral fable.--The King who longed for
fruit...Page 370

There are many classes of men amongst the Mussulmauns, who either abjure
the world or seem to do so, independent of those denominated Durweish;--
such us the religions mendicants, &c., who have no earthly calling, and
derive their subsistence from the free-will offerings of their neighbours,
or the bounty of the rich, who from respect for their humble calling, and
a hope of benefit from their prayers, or rather from the veneration of
Mussulmauns towards such of their faith as have renounced the world for
the service of God.

The Chillubdhaars[1] are a well-known class of wanderers; their founder
was a Syaad, Ahmud Kaabeer,[2] of whom many wonderful things are related
sufficient to impress on the weak mind a belief in his supernatural
ascendancy. His presumed powers are said to have been chiefly instrumental
in curing the sick or in removing temporal afflictions; but his effectual
prayers in behalf of people in difficulty, they say, surpassed those of
any other of the whole tribes of devotees that have at any age existed.
His admirers and followers speak of him as having been invulnerable to
fire. In his lifetime he had forty disciples or pupils constantly with him;
at his death these forty separated, each in the course of time
accumulating his forty pupils, after the pattern of their founder, who
also eventually became leaders, and so on, until at the present time, it
is conjectured, there are few places in Asia exempt from one or more
detachments of these Chillubdhaar practical beggars who are much admired
by the weak; and although they profess the same tenets and rules of life
with their founder, Syaad Ahmud Kaabeer, yet, I believe, no one gives the
Chillubdhaars of the present period credit for possessing either the
virtues or the power of that man who set them so many bright examples;
nevertheless, they are applied to on emergencies by the ignorant and the
credulous of the present day, courted by the weak, and tolerated by all.

They all practise one plan whenever called upon to remove the difficulty
of any person who places sufficient confidence in their ability. On such
occasions, a young heifer, two years old, is supplied by the person having
a request to make, after which a fire of charcoal is made in an open space
of ground, and the animal sacrificed according to Mussulmaun form. The
tender pieces of meat are selected, spitted, and roasted over the fire, of
which when cooked, all present are requested to partake. Whilst the meat
is roasting, the Chillubdhaars beat time with a small tambourine to a song
or dirge expressive of their love and respect to the memory of the
departed saint, their founder and patron, and a hymn of praise to the

The feast concluded, whilst the fire of charcoal retains a lively heat,
these devotees commence dancing, still beating their tambourines and
calling out with an audible voice, 'There is but one God!--Mahumud is the
Prophet of God!' Then they sing in praise of Ali, the descendants of the
Prophet, and, lastly, of Syaad Ahmud Kaabeer their beloved saint. Each
then puts his naked foot in the fire: some even throw themselves upon
it,--their associates taking care to catch them before they are well
down,--others jump into the fire and out again instantly; lastly, the whole
assembly trample and kick the remaining embers about, whilst a spark
remains to be quenched by this means.[3] These efforts, it is pretended,
are sufficient to remove the difficulties of the persons supplying
the heifer and the charcoal.

These mendicants live on public favour and contributions; they wear
clothes, are deemed harmless, never ask alms, but are always willing to
accept them, and have no laws of celibacy, as is the case with some
wandering beggars in India, who are naked except the wrapper; sometimes
they settle, making fresh converts, but many wander from city to city,
always finding people disposed to administer to their necessities. They
are distinguished from other sects, by each individual carrying a small
tambourine, and wearing clothing of a deep buff colour.

There are another set of wandering mendicants, who are called Madhaar[4]
beggars, or the Duffelees,[5] by reason of the small hand-drum they carry
with them. These are the disciples of the sainted Maadhaar, whose tomb is
visited annually by little short of a million of people, men, women, and
children, at a place called Muckunpore, about twenty koss from Cawnpore.

Maadhaar was esteemed in his lifetime a most perfect Durweish, and his
admirers speak of the power he then possessed as still existing; in that
his pure spirit at stated periods hovers near his last earthly remains,
where the common people make a sort of pilgrimage to entreat his influence
in their behalf. A mayllah[6] (fair) is the consequence of this annual
pilgrimage, which continues, I think, seventeen days in succession, and
brings together, from many miles distant, the men of business, the
weak-minded, and the faithful devotees of every class in the Upper

From the respect paid to the memory of Maadhaar, and the expected
influence of his spirit at the shrine, the ignorant people bring their
sons to receive the saint's blessing on their tender years. The man of
business also presents himself before it, desirous to insure a share of
success at the fair, and ultimate prosperity at home. The devotee visits
the shrine from a desire to increase in true wisdom by the reflected light
of the Maadhaar Durweish's purer spirit. Women having made vows to visit
the shrine, come to fulfil it at this period, if their hopes be realized
in the birth of a son; and others to entreat his influence that their
daughters may be suitably married; in short, all who assemble at this
mayllah have some prayer to offer, or acknowledgments to make, for they
depend on the abundant power and influence of the saint's spirit to supply
their several wants or desires.

At the shrine of this saint, a descendant, or as is suspected often in
such cases, a pretended relative, takes his station to collect, with all
the appearance of sanctity and humility, the nuzzas offered at the shrine
of Maadhaar. The amount so collected is enormous, if credit be given to
the reports in circulation; for all visitors are expected to present an
offering, and most of the pilgrims do it for conscience sake. I knew a
Mussulmaun who went from curiosity to this mayllah; he was accosted rather
rudely as he was quitting the tomb, without leaving a nuzza; he told the
guardian of the tomb he had presented the best nuzza he possessed, in a
prayer for the soul of the departed; (as commanded every Mussulmaun should
offer when drawing near the tomb of one of his own faith).

I have conversed with a remarkably devout person, on the numerous
extraordinary stories related of Maadhaar's life, and the subsequent
influence of his tomb. He told me that women can never, with safety to
themselves, enter the mausoleum containing his ashes; they are immediately
seized with violent pains as if their whole body was immersed in flames of
fire. I spoke rather doubtingly on this subject, upon which he assured me
that he had known instances of one or two women who had imprudently defied
the danger, and intruded within the mausoleum, when their agony was
extreme, and their sufferings for a long time protracted, although they
eventually recovered.

Another still more remarkable circumstance has been related to me by the
Natives, for the truth of which I cannot venture to vouch, although I have
no reason to doubt the veracity of the narrators.

'A party of foreigners, encamped near the fair, wished to see what was
going on at this far-famed mayllah, and for the purpose of gratifying
their curiosity, halted on a certain day in the vicinity of the Durgah,
when the place was much thronged by the various pilgrims to that shrine.
The party dined in their tent, but drank more wine than was consistent
with propriety, and one was particularly overcome. When they sallied forth,
at the close of the day, to visit this saint's tomb, their approach was
observed by the keepers, who observing how very unfit the strangers
appeared to enter the sanctuary of other men's devotions,--the hallowed
ground that was by them respected,--the head-keeper very civilly advanced
as they moved towards the entrance, requesting that they would desist from
entering in their apparent condition, contrary to the rules of the place
and people. The convivial party then drew back, without contesting the
point, excepting the one most disguised in liquor, who asserted his right
to enter wherever and whenever he thought good, nor would he be controlled
by any man in India.

'The keepers spoke very mildly to the tipsy foreigner, and would have
persuaded him he was doing wrong, but he was not in a state to listen to
any argument dissuading him from his determined purpose; they warned him
that a severe punishment must follow his daring, as he pushed past them
and reeled into the mausoleum, triumphing at his success. He had
approached the tomb, when he was immediately seized with trembling, and
sank senseless on the floor; his friends without, observing his situation,
advanced and were assisted by the keepers in removing the apparently
inanimate body to the open air: water was procured, and after considerable
delay, returning symptoms of life were discovered. When able to speak, he
declared himself to be on the eve of death, and in a few short hours he
breathed his last.' The unhappy man may have died of apoplexy.

The ignorant part of the population of Hindoostaun hold a superstitious
belief in the occasional visitations of the spirit of Sheikh Suddoo.[7] It
is very common to hear the vulgar people say if any one of their friends
is afflicted with melancholy, hypochondria, &c., 'Ay, it is the spirit of
Sheikh Suddoo has possessed him.' In such cases the spirit is to be
dislodged from the afflicted person by sweetmeats, to be distributed among
the poor; to which is added, if possible, the sacrifice of a black goat. I
am not quite sure that the night blindness, with which the lower orders of
Natives are frequently attacked, has not some superstitious allusion
attached to it; but the only remedy I have ever heard prescribed for it is,
that the patient should procure the liver of a young kid, which must be
grilled over the fire, and eaten by the afflicted person. The story of
this Sheikh Suddoo, which is often related in the zeenahnahs of the
Mussulmauns, is as follows:--

'Sheikh Suddoo was a very learned man, but a great hypocrite, who passed
days and nights in the mosque, and was fed by the charitable, his
neighbours, from such viands as they provided daily for the poor traveller,
and those men who forsake the world. The Sheikh sometimes wandered into a
forest seldom penetrated by the foot of man, where, on a certain day, he
discovered a copper cup, curiously engraved with characters which he tried
in vain with all his learning to decipher. The Sheikh returned with the
cup to the mosque, regretting that the characters were unknown to him; but
as he had long desired to have a good-sized lamp, he fancied from the
peculiar shape of his prize, that it would answer the very purpose, and
the same night he exultingly prepared his charaagh[8] (a light) in the
engraved vessel.

'The moment he had ignited one wick, he was surprised by the appearance of
a figure, resembling a human being, standing before him, "Who art thou,"
he demanded, "intruding at this hour on the privacy of a
hermit?"--"I come", replied the figure, "on the summons from your lamp.
That vessel, and whoever possesses it, has four attendants, one of whom
you see before you, your slave. We are Genii, and can only be summoned by
the lighting up of the vessel now before you; the number of your slaves
will be in due attendance, always guided by as many wicks as it may be
your pleasure to light up for our summons. Demand our attendance, at any
hour you please, we are bound to obey."

'The Sheikh inquired if he or his companions possessed any power. "Power",
replied the Genii, "belongs to God alone, the Creator of all things
visible and invisible; but by His permission we are enabled to perform, to
a certain extent, any reasonable service our master requires."

'The Sheikh soon put their abilities to the test, and satisfied himself
that these agents would aid and assist him in raising his character with
the world (for he coveted their praise), "They would", he thought,
"assuredly believe he was a pious Durweish, when he could convince them by
a ready compliance with their requests, which must seem to follow his
prayers, and which he should be able to further now by the aid of the

'The pretended holy man employed his attendant Genii fully; many of his
demands on their services were difficult, and too often revolting to them;
yet whilst he retained the lamp in his possession, they were bound to obey
his commands. He once heard of a king's daughter, who was young and
beautiful; he therewith summoned the Genii, and required that they should
convey the princess to him. They reluctantly obeyed his command, and the
princess was the Sheikh's unwilling companion in the mosque. On another
occasion, he desired the Genii to bring without delay, to the ground in
front of his present abiding place, a very curious mosque situated many
leagues distant, the stones of which were so nicely cemented together,
that no trace of the joining could be discovered. The Genii received this
command with regret, but they were obliged to obey, and departed from the
Sheikh's presence to execute his unworthy orders.

'It happened that the mosque which the Sheikh coveted was the retreat of a
righteous man, who had separated from the world to serve his God,
venerable in years and devout in his duties. The Genii commenced their
labour of removing the mosque; the good man who was at his devotions
within, fancied an earthquake was shaking the building to its foundation,
but as he trusted in God for preservation, he breathed a fervent prayer as
he remained prostrate before Him.

'The shaking of the mosque continued, and he was inspired by a sudden
thought that induced him to believe some supernatural agency was employed
against the holy house; he therefore called out, "Who and what are ye, who
thus sacrilegiously disturb the house of God!" The Genii appeared, and
made known to what order of beings they belonged, whose servants they were,
and the purpose of their mission.

'"Begone this instant!" replied the pious man, with a tone of authority
that deprived them of strength: "a moment's delay, and I will pray that
you be consumed by fire! Know ye not that this is a mosque, holy, and
erected wherein to do service to the great and only God? Would Sheikh
Suddoo add to his enormities by forcing the house of God from its
foundation? Away, ye servants of the wicked Sheikh, or meet the fire that
awaits you by a moment's further delay!"

'The Genii fled in haste to their profane employer, whose rage was
unbounded at their disobedience, as he termed their return without the
mosque; he raved, stormed, and reviled his slaves in bitter sarcasms, when
they, heartily tired of the Sheikh's servitude, caught up the copper
vessel, and, in his struggle to resist the Genii, he was thrown with
violence on the ground, when his wicked soul was suddenly separated from
his most impure body.'

This story receives many alterations and additions, agreeable to the
talent and the inclination of the person relating it in Native society;
but as there once was a person on whose history it has been founded, they
do not denominate it fabulous or khaunie.[9] The following, which I am
about to copy from a translation of my husband's, is really a mere fable;
and, however trifling and childish it may appear, I feel bound to insert
it, as one among those things which serves to illustrate the character of
the people I have undertaken to describe; merely adding, that all these
fables prove an unceasing entertainment in the zeenahnah, with females who
cannot themselves read, either for amusement or instruction:--

'A certain man was travelling on horseback through an immense forest; and
when he came to a particular spot, he observed fire consuming some bushes,
in the centre of which was a monstrous large snake. The Snake was in
danger of being destroyed by the flames, so he called to the Traveller, in
a voice of despair--"Oh! good Sahib, save me, or I perish!"[10]

'The Traveller was a very tender-hearted creature, prone to pity the
painful sufferings of every living creature, whether man or animal; and
therefore began to devise some scheme for liberating the Snake from the
devouring flames. His horse's corn bag, which was made of leather, hung
dangling by a rope from the crupper; this, he thought, would be the best
thing he could offer to the distressed Snake. Accordingly, holding fast by
the rope, he threw the bag towards the flames, and desired the Snake to
hasten into it, who immediately accepted the offered aid, and the
Traveller drew him out of his perilous situation.

'No sooner was the Snake released from danger, than, ungrateful for the
services he had received from the Traveller, he sprang towards him, with
the purpose of wounding his deliverer. This, however, he failed to
accomplish, for the Traveller drew back in time to escape the attack; and
demanded of his enemy his reasons for such base ingratitude, saying--"Have
I not saved your life by my prompt assistance? What a worthless reptile
art thou! Is this thy mode of rewarding benefits?"--"Oh!" said the Snake,
"I am only imitating the way of the world; who ever thinks of returning
good for good? No, no! every benefit received by the creature of this
world is rewarded to the donor by an ungrateful return. I tell you, good
Traveller, I am only following the example set me in the way of the world."

'"I shall not take your word for it," said the Traveller in reply; "but if
I can be convinced that what you say is true, you shall be welcome to bite
me."--"Agreed," said the Snake; and off they set together in search of

'The first object they met was a large Pepul-tree[11] whose branches spread
out an inviting shelter to the weary traveller to repose under, without
rent or tax. The Pepul-tree was asked, "Whether it was consistent with the
way of the world for the Snake to try to wound the man who had preserved
him from destruction."

'The Pepul-tree replied, "To follow in the way of the world, I should say
the Snake was justified. A good return is never now-a-days tendered for a
benefit received by mere worldlings, as I can bear witness by my own
sufferings. Listen to my complaint:--Here in this solitary jungle, where
neither hut nor mansion is to be found, I spread forth my well-clothed
branches,--a welcome shelter to the passing traveller from the burning
heat of the noontide sun, or the deluge poured out from the over-charged
cloud;---under my cover they cook their meal, and my falling leaves supply
them with fuel, as also with a bed on which they may recline their weary
limbs. Think you, when they have thus profited by the good I have done
them, that they are grateful for my services?--Oh, no! the ingrates
despoil the symmetry of my form, break off my branches with violence, and
trudge off triumphantly with the spoil which may serve them for fuel for
cooking at their next stage. So you see the Snake is right; he has but
followed the way of the world."

'The Snake exultingly led the way in search of other proofs by which he
should be justified. They fell in with a man who was by occupation a
camel-driver. The Man being made acquainted with the point at issue,
desired to be heard, as he could prove by his own tale that the Snake's
ingratitude was a true picture of the way of the world:--"I was the sole
proprietor of a very fine strong camel, by whose labour I earned a
handsome competence for each day's provision of myself and family, in
conveying goods and sometimes travellers from place to place, as my good
fortune served me. On a certain day, returning home through an intricate
wood, I drew near to a poor blind man who was seated on the ground
lamenting his hard fate. Hearing my camel's feet advance, he redoubled his
cries of distress, calling loudly for help and assistance. His piteous
cries won upon the tender feelings of my heart; so I drew near to inquire
into his situation, he told me with tears and sobs, that he was travelling
on foot from his home to visit his relations at the next town; that he had
been attacked by robbers, his property taken from him by violence, and
that the boy, his guide, was forced from him by the banditti as a slave;
and here, added the blind man, must I perish, for I can neither see my way
home, nor search for food; in this lone place my friends will never think
to seek me, and my body will be the feast for jackals ere the morning

'"The poor man's story made so deep an impression on my mind, that I
resolved on assisting him; accordingly my camel was made to kneel down, I
seated the blind man safely on my beast, and set off with him to the city
he called his home. Arrived at the city gates, I lowered my camel, and
offered to assist the poor man in descending from his seat; but, to my
astonishment, he commenced abusing me for my barefaced wickedness,
collected a mob around us, by his cries for help from his persecutor,
declared himself the master of the camel, and accused me of attempting to
rob him now as I had done his brother before.

'"So plausible was his speech--so apparently innocent and just his
demands--that the whole collected populace believed I was actually
attempting to defraud the blind man of his property, and treated me in
consequence with great severity. I demanded to be taken before the Kauzy
of the city. 'Yes yes,' said the blind man, 'we will have you before the
Kauzy'; and away we went, accompanied by the crowd who had espoused the
blind man's cause against me.

'"The blind man preferred his claim, and advocated his own cause with so
many arguments of apparent justice, that I was not allowed a voice in the
business; and in the end I was sentenced to be thrust out of the city as a
thief and vagabond, with a threat of still greater punishment if I dared
to return. Here ends my sad tale; and you may judge for yourself, oh,
Traveller! how truly the Snake has proved to you that he follows but the
way of the world!"

* * * * *

'As they pursued their way in search of further conviction, they met a Fox,
whose wisdom and sagacity was consulted on the important question. Having
heard the whole history with becoming gravity, the Fox addressed the
Traveller:--"You can have no good reason to suppose, Mr. Traveller, that
in your case there should be any deviation from the general rule. I have
often been obliged to suffer the vilest returns from friends whom I have
been active to oblige; but I am rather curious to see the way you effected
the release of the Snake from the fire, for I will candidly confess myself
so stupid as not clearly to understand the description you have both
attempted to give. I shall judge the merits of the case better if I see it

'To this proposal the Snake and Traveller agreed: and when the corn bag
was thrown towards the Snake, he crept into it as before. The Fox then
called out to the Traveller "Draw quickly!" he did so, and the Snake was
caught by a noose in the cord which the Fox had contrived unperceived, by
which the Snake was secured fast round the middle. "Now," said the Fox,
"bruise your enemy, and thus relieve the world of one base

This fable is frequently enlarged and embellished by the reciter to a
considerable extent, by introducing many different objects animate and
inanimate, to elucidate the question before the Fox arrives, who is
generally brought in to moral the fable.

I trust to be excused for transcribing the following moral fable which was
translated from the Persian by my husband for my amusement, bearing the
title of 'The King who longed for an unknown fruit:'--

'A certain King was so great a tyrant, that his servants and subjects
dreaded each burst of anger, as it were the prelude to their own
annihilation. The exercise of his will was as absolute as his power; he
had only to command, and obedience followed, however difficult or
inconvenient to the people who served under him.

'This tyrant dreamed one night that he was eating fruit of an
extraordinary flavour and quality. He had never in his whole life seen
fruit of the kind, neither had he heard such described by travellers; yet
when he ruminated on the subject in the morning he was resolved to have
fruit of the same sort his dream presented, or his people should suffer
for his disappointment.

'The King related his dream, and with it his commands to his Vizier, his
courtiers, and attendants, that fruit of the same description should be
brought before him within seven days; in default of which he vowed
solemnly that death should be the portion of his Vizier, his courtiers,
and servants. They all knew the King meant to be obeyed, by the
earnestness of his manner, and they trembled under the weight of his
perplexing orders; each, therefore, was speedily engaged in the
all-important search. The whole empire was canvassed, and all the business
of the Court was suspended to satisfy the whim of the Monarch, without
avail; terror and dismay marked the countenance of the whole city--for
certain death awaited these servants of the Court--and there was but now
one day left to their hopes. The city, the suburbs, the provinces, had
been searched; disappointment followed from every quarter, and the
threatened party gave up their hearts to despair.

'A certain Durweish, knowing the consternation of the people, and feeling
pity for their unmerited sufferings, sent for the Vizier privately. "I am
not", said the Durweish, "by any means anxious to please the vanity and
silly wishes of your master, the King, but I do hear with pity the state
of despair you and your fellows are reduced to, by the unsuccessful
results of your search after the fruit, and the certain consequences which
are to follow your failure."

'Then giving the Vizier a fragment of a broken pitcher, on which was
ciphered unknown characters, he told him to take it with him to a certain
tomb, situated in the suburbs of the royal city, (directing him to the
spot with great exactness), and casting the fragment on the tomb, to
follow the directions he would there receive; he further desired him to be
secret, to go alone, and at midnight.

'The now hope-inspired Vizier went as desired at midnight, and cast the
fragment on the tomb, which instantly opened to him. He then descended a
flight of steps, from the foot of which, at a little distance, he first
espied a light not larger than a taper, but which increased as he went on
until the full splendour of noonday succeeded. Proceeding with confidence,
revived hope cheered his heart, anticipating that by success so many lives
besides his own would be preserved through his humble endeavours; and that
life would be more than doubly dear, as the prospect of losing the gift
had embittered the last few days so severely.

'The Vizier passed on courageously through halls, corridors, and
apartments of magnificent structure, decorated and furnished in the most
perfect style of elegant neatness. Everything he saw bore marks of
splendour. The King's palace was then remembered in all its costliness, to
be as much inferior to the present scene as could be detected by the
lapidary's correct eye, when comparing the diamond with the pebble.

'He was perfectly entranced as he gazed on the emerald gate, through which
he had to pass to enter a garden of luxuriant beauty, where every shrub,
plant, flower, and fruit teemed with richness. In the centre of a walk an
old man was seated in a chair of burnished gold, clad in the costume of
the country, who seemed to be engaged in breathing the sweet odours by
which he was surrounded with a calm and tranquil countenance of joy. "I
know your business," said the possessor of this paradise, to the Vizier as
he advanced towards him; "you are come to obtain fruit from this tree,
which bows its branches to the earth with the weight and number of its
burden. Take one only; this is the fruit your master's dream pictured to
his fancy."

'Full of joy at the prospect of release from the dreaded anger of his
royal master, the Vizier hastily plucked the fruit, and retreated by the
way he came, without waiting to inquire what the old man meant by an
exclamation he uttered at parting, which at the time seemed of lesser
import than he afterwards imagined; but "Alas, the world" was recalled to
his memory on his way back to the palace, and haunted his mind so strongly
that he became restless and uneasy, even after the King had conferred
honours and favours innumerable on him for his successful efforts in
procuring that fruit which had never before been seen by any creature on
earth but by the King, and by him only in a dream. "Alas, the world!" was
like a dark envelope over every attempt to be cheerful; an impenetrable
cloud seemed to pervade the Vizier's mind; he could think of nothing but
the parting words of the old man, and his own folly in not inquiring his

'The Vizier at last went to the same Durweish who had befriended him in
his hour of need, and related to him the obstacle to his enjoyment of the
blessings and honours which had crowned his success, and hoped from this
holy-minded man to ascertain the meaning of that perplexing sentence,
"Alas, the world!" The Durweish could not, or would not explain the old
man's meaning; but willing to do the Vizier all possible service, he
proposed giving him again the necessary passport to the inhabitant of the

'The fragment of a pitcher was again traced with the mystic characters,
and with this in his hand the Vizier at midnight sought the tomb, where he
found as easy access as on the former occasion. Everything he saw seemed
doubly beautiful to his imagination since his former visit. He entered by
the emerald gate and found the old man enjoying the magnificent and
sense-devouring scene, with as much delight as mortals are wont to show
when content fills the heart of man.

'"I know your second errand, my friend," said the old man, "and am quite
as willing to oblige you as on your first visit. Know then, Vizier, that
whilst an inhabitant of earth, I followed the humble occupation of a
village barber; by shaving and paring nails I earned my daily bread, and
maintained my family. Sometimes I collected ten pice in my day of labour
from house to house, and if twelve crowned my efforts I was fortunate.

'"Many years passed over my head in this way, when one day I was less
successful in my calling, and but half my usual earnings was all I had
gained. On my way home I was ruminating on the scantiness of the meal
likely to be procured by five pice for my family of seven people; the
season was one of such great scarcity, that ten pice on other days had
been of late barely sufficient to procure our daily food; and even with
twelve we thought our wants had been but inadequately supplied. I went on
grieving,--more for my family than myself, it is true,--and could have
cried at the thought of the small portion of bread and dhall I should see
allotted to each individual dependant on me.

'"In my progress towards home, whilst regretting my poverty, I saw an
unfortunate beggar, whose earnest entreaty seemed to make no impression on
those who passed him by; for, in truth, when money is scarce and corn dear,
people's hearts grow somewhat cold to the distresses of those who have no
claim by kindred ties. But with me it was otherways: my scantiness seemed
to make me more tender to the sorrows of my fellow-creatures. Poor soul,
said I to myself, thou art starving, and no one gives ear to thy
complaints; now if I take home this scanty produce of my day's labour, it
will not give a meal to all my household; besides, they dined with me
tolerably well yesterday. We shall not starve by one day's fasting;
to-morrow Divine Providence may send me in the way of more bearded men
than I have met to-day. I am resolved this poor man shall have the
benefit of a good meal for once, which he supplicates for in the name of

'"I then went to the beggar and threw the five pice into his upheld
wrapper. 'There, brother,' said I, 'it is all I have; go, make yourself
happy in a good meal, and remember me in your prayers.' 'May Heaven give
you plenty in this world and bless your soul in the next!' was his only
response. That prayer was heard, for during my further sojourn on earth
abundance crowned my board; and here, it is unnecessary to remark on the
bounties by which you perceive I am surrounded.

'"That I said _Alas, the world!_ was from the reflection that I did but
one act of real charity whilst I remained in it, and see what an abundance
rewards me here. Had I known how such things are rewarded hereafter, I
should have been more careful to have embraced the passing opportunities,
while I walked with my fellow-man on earth. That I said, _Alas, the
world_! to you, was an intended admonition to mankind; to convince them of
the blessings bestowed in this world of bliss eternal, in reward for every
proper use to which the benefits they received in their probationary state
of existence may have been devoted. Go, friend! and profit by the example
I present of heavenly rewards! Persevere in a course of practical charity
in that world you still inhabit; and secure, whilst you may, the blessed
rewards of eternity!"'

[1] This term does not appear in the ordinary dictionaries or Census
reports. Sir C. Lyall, with much probability, suggests that the
correct form is Chalapdar, 'a cymbal player'.

[2] A saint, Sayyid Ahmad Kabir, is buried at Bijaimandil, Delhi.
T.W. Beale, _Oriental Biographical Dictionary, s.v._

[3] Fire-walking is practised by many Musalman devotees. In a case
recorded on the NW. frontier, a fakir and other persons walked
through a fire-trench and showed no signs of injury; others came out
with blistered feet and were jeered at as unorthodox Musalmans; a
young Sikh, shouting his Sikh battle-cry, performed the feat, and as
he escaped uninjured, a riot was with difficulty prevented.--T.L.
Pennell, _Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier_, 1909, p. 37,
See M.L. Dames, 'Ordeals by Fire in the Punjab' (_Journal
Anthropological Society, Bombay_, vol. iv). The subject is fully
discussed by Sir J. Frazer, _The Golden Bough_[3], part vii, vol. ii,
1913, pp. 5 ff.

[4] Madari fakirs, who take their names from Badi-ud-din Madar
Shah, a disciple of Shaikh Muhammad Taifuri Bastami, who
died A.D. 1434 at the ago of 124 years, and is buried at Makanpur in
the Cawnpur District, where an annual fair is held at his tomb. On the
anniversary of his death food is offered here, and amulets
_(baddhi)_ are hung round the necks of children. Some light a
charcoal fire, sprinkle ground sandalwood on it, and jumping into it,
tread out the embers with their feet, shouting out _dam Madar_, 'by
the breath of Madar!' the phrase being regarded as a charm against
snake-bite and scorpion stings. After the fire-walk the feet of the
performers are washed and are found to be uninjured. Others vow a
black cow, sacrifice it, and distribute the meat to beggars. The rite
is of Hindu origin, and Hindus believe that the saint is an
incarnation of their god Lakshmana.--Jaffur Sharreef, _Qanoon-e-Islam_,
158 f.: W. Crooke, _Tribes and Castes of the NW. P. and Oudh_, iii.
397 ff.

[5] Dafali, from _daf_, a drum.

[6] _Mela_.

[7] Shaikh Saddu is the special saint of women. His name was
Muhi-ud-din, and he lived at Amroha or Sambhal, in the United
Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Some unorthodox Musalmans offer food in
the name, and hold a session, in which a female devotee becomes
possessed. A woman who wants a child says to her: 'Lady! I offer my
life to you that I may have a child', whereupon the devotee gives her
betel which she has chewed, or sweets, and this is supposed to bring
about the desired result (Jaffur Shurreef, _Qanoon-e-Islam_, 184 f: W.
Crooke, _Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India_, i. 204). In
Bihar it is said that he had a lamp with four wicks, on lighting
which, four Jinns appeared, and he used them for the purpose of
debauchery. Finally, another Jinn slew him. People become possessed in
his name, and when summoned in cases of illness or trouble, announce
that a goat or a cock must be sacrificed to the saint (_Census Report,
Bengal_, 1901, i. 180).

[8] _Chiragh_, an earthenware cup in which a wick is lighted.

[9] _Kahani_, a folk-tale.

[10] This tale comes from the Nala-Damayanti Saga. Nala finds a snake
in danger of death from a jungle fire, saves it, and is bitten by the
reptile, in the forehead, which causes him to become weak, deformed,
and black in colour. The snake turns out to be the King Snake,
Karkotaka. He says to Nala: 'I gave you this bite for your good, as
you will soon learn, in order that your deformity may conceal you in
carrying out your plans' (C.H. Tawney, _Katha-saral-Sagara_, i.
564 f.: C.H. Bompas, _Folklore of the Santal Parganas_, 149 ff.).

[11] _Pipal, Ficus religiosa_.

[12] A common Indian folk-tale. In one of the most common versions the
jackal tricks the ungrateful tiger, and induces him to go back to his


Superstition of the Natives.--Fair annually kept by Hindoos.--Supposed
practice of witchcraft by an old woman.--Assaulted by an infuriated
populace.--Rescued by a Native gentleman.--He inquires their reasons
for persecuting her.--Is instrumental in appeasing their
malignity.--Endeavours to remove their prejudice.--Proneness of
Asiatics to superstition.--Opinion of a Mussulmaun on the influence
of evil spirits.--Account of a woman possessed by an evil
spirit.--Dialogue with her during the paroxysms of her
affliction.--Means used for her recovery.--Further allusions to the
false notions of the Natives respecting supernatural agency...Page 387

All the Natives of Hindoostaun appear to me to be, more or less, tinctured
with superstitious notions, which, in many instances, are so grafted in
their nature as to resist every attempt made to root out by arguments the
folly of this great weakness.

I hope to be forgiven for introducing in this Letter a few anecdotes and
occurrences, which may illustrate that faulty side of the character of a
people who have not derived those advantages which are calculated to
displace superstition from the mind of man;--in a word, they are strangers
to that Holy volume which teaches better things.

A fair had been held at Lucknow one afternoon, not immediately within our
view, but the holiday folks passed our house on the road to and from the
scene of action. This fair or mayllah is visited by all ranks and classes
of Natives; but it is strictly a Hindoo festival annually kept up in
remembrance of the celebrated Kornea,[1] of Hindoo mythologic celebrity,
who according to their tradition, when but a child, on a certain day
killed with his slender arm a great tyrant, the giant Khaunce. Had there
ever existed a suspicion that the Hindoos sprang from any of the tribes of
Israel, I should have imagined the event they celebrate might have
reference to the act of David, who with his single arm destroyed Goliath
of Gath. This, however, can hardly be supposed, although the similarity is
remarkably striking.

The figure of Khaunce is made up of bamboo and paper, representing a human
being of gigantic stature, and bearing a most fierce countenance, with
some certain appendages, as horns, tail, &c., to render the figure more
disgusting. It is placed near the bank of the river Goomtie, in a
conspicuous situation, for the wonder and admiration of some, the terror
of the weak, and the satisfaction of the believers in the fabled story of
Kornea and his supposed supernatural power.

Kornea is represented by a little boy, dressed in costly apparel, who is
conveyed in grand procession, seated on an elephant, and surrounded by
attendants on horseback, with bands of music and a multitude of followers,
through the principal streets of the city to the chosen spot where Khaunce
is placed to be attacked by the child.

When the farce is properly prepared for the attack, the child, I am
told,--for I have never seen the ceremony,--takes aim from his
well-ornamented bow, and with a single arrow sends the monstrous giant
into the river, whilst the shouts of the multitude declare the victory of
Kornea, and the destruction of the enemy to the repose of mankind. The
figure, I should have remarked, is made up of parts merely placed on each
other, so that the force of an arrow is sufficient to dislodge the lofty
erection as readily as a pack of cards in a mimic castle may be levelled
by a breath. The mayllah concludes when the floating members of the figure
have glided with the stream out of sight.

A party of poor weak-minded mortals, pedestrians, but by their dress
respectable people, returning from this day's mayllah when the evening was
well advanced, suddenly halted near my house; my attention was soon
aroused by violent screams, and exclamations of 'Seize her! seize her! she
is eating my heart!' accompanied by all those indications of fear and pain,
that did not fail to excite my sympathy; for I could not comprehend what
was the matter and imagined the poor man had been wounded by the hand of
an assassin.

A crowd quickly assembled, and a great bustle ensued; I was really alarmed,
and the tumult of voices continuing for some minutes, we distinctly heard
the loud cries of a coarse female voice who seemed to be in great danger
of losing her life by the rough treatment of a lawless rabble; this
induced a Native gentleman of our family to venture out, to ascertain if
possible the cause of the excitement, and also to endeavour to assuage the
angry feelings of the turbulent party. His appearance amongst them
produced the desired effect, they were silenced by his command; and when
the man whose alarming screams had first assailed us, was brought before
him, he found that he was a man of great respectability amongst the
shop-keepers of the city, with a child of four years old in his arms, or
rather I should say the child was seated astride on his father's hip, the
arm encircling the child's body, as is the general manner of nursing
amongst all classes of the Natives.

On being questioned as to the cause of his raising the tumult, he declared
that he was walking quietly on the roadway with his party, when the old
woman (who was in custody) had touched him as he passed, when immediately
his heart sickened, and he was sensible she had bewitched him, for she was
still devouring his heart and feasting on his vitals.[2] 'I will certainly
kill her!' he added, 'if she does not restore me to myself and my child
likewise!'--'When was your child attacked?'--'About four days since,'
answered the angry father.

'Good man!' replied my friend; 'you must be under the influence of
delusion, since you told me just now, the woman is a stranger to you, and
that you never saw her before; how could she have bewitched your child
then four days ago? I am sure weakening fears or illness has taken
possession of your better feelings; the poor creature looks not like one
who possesses the power you ascribe to her.'

The old woman threw herself at the feet of my friend, and implored his
protection, reiterating her gratitude to him as her preserver from the
fury of an angry populace, who had already beaten her with slippers on her
head, as a prelude to their future harsh intentions towards her. She
stretched out her hands to touch him and bless him, as is the custom with
the lower orders of women to their superior of either sex, but the
multitude insisted she should not be allowed to let her unhallowed hands
fall on the good Mussulmaun gentleman; in a second was to be heard the
invocations of Hindoos and Mussulmauns, on their several sources of
supreme aid, to save the gentleman from her power, for all the mob felt
persuaded the old woman was a witch.

'Be assured you are mistaken, I, at least, have no fears that her touch
can harm me;' responded my friend. 'Exercise your reason--is she not a
human being like ourselves? True she is old and ugly, but you are really
wicked in accusing and ill-treating the poor wretch.' They were silenced
for a few minutes, then declared she must be a witch, for her feet were
crooked, she was desired to exhibit them, and they were found to be
perfectly good straight feet.

My friend inquired of the old woman who she was; she answered, 'A poor
mazoorie[3] (corn-grinder), my husband and my sons are grass-cutters, our
abode is in the serai (inn for travellers), we are poor, but honest
people.' 'You see, Sir,' said my friend to the accusing person, 'your own
weak fears have imposed upon your mind. This woman cannot have done you any
injury; let her depart quietly to her home without farther annoyance.'

'No!' replied the accuser, 'she must satisfy me she is not a witch, or
worse than that, by allowing me to pluck a few hairs from her head.'--'
What benefit do you propose to yourself by this measure?'--'Why I shall
relieve myself from her power over me, by possessing hairs plucked from
her head, on which my friends will exercise certain prayers, and thus the
craft she has used to bewitch me will be dissolved, and I shall be
restored to myself again.'[4]

Willing as my friend was to get the poor woman released from the hands of
the accusing party, and finding reason or argument of no avail in turning
them from their purpose to detain her, the terms were acceded to on the
one part, provided the woman herself was willing to comply, to which, when
she was asked, she replied, 'I am not the wretched creature my accuser
imagines, and therefore can have no objection, on condition that I may be
allowed afterwards to return to my home in peace.'

The poor old head was now in danger of being plucked of its white hairs by
the surrounding crowd, whose extravagant desire to possess the, to them,
invaluable specific against witchcraft--for they still believed she was
actually a witch--led them to overlook humanity and feeling; but the
peacemaker's voice was again heard, commanding the crowd to desist, and
they should all be gratified, when the scissors he had sent a servant to
fetch, might enable them to possess the prize without inflicting pain on
the poor persecuted woman.

Whilst this was in agitation, and before the scissors were used, several
well-armed soldiers, attracted by the appearance of a riot, had made their
way to the scene of contention, who recognizing the old woman as the
mother and wife of their three grass-cutters, immediately took the poor
old soul under their protection, and conveyed her safely from her
tormentors. My friend was very well satisfied to resign his charge to
their guardianship, and not a little pleased that he had been instrumental
in preserving a fellow-creature from the lawless hands of the foolishly
superstitious of his countrymen.

It is lamentable to witness how powerful an ascendancy superstition sways
over the minds of Asiatics generally. The very wisest, most learned, most
religious, even, are more or less tinctured with this weakness; and, I may
add, that I have hardly met with one person entirely free from the opinion
that witchcraft and evil agency are in the hands of some, and often
permitted to be exercised on their neighbours. The truly religious people
declare to me, that they only are preserved from such calamities who can
place their whole reliance on the power and goodness of God alone; Who,
they are persuaded, will never suffer His faithful servants to be
persecuted by the evil one in any shape, or under any mysterious agency.
Perfect dependance on Divine Providence is the Mussulmaun's only safeguard,
for they declare it to be their belief that evil agency exists still, as
it did in the first ages of the world. Faith and trust in God can alone
preserve them; when that fails, or if they have never learned to rely on
Him for protection, they are necessarily exposed to the influence of that
evil agency by which so many have suffered both in body and soul amongst
their country-people.

The return of our friend, with the explanation of the scene I had
witnessed from my window, led me to inquire very minutely into the opinion
and general belief of the Mussulmauns on such subjects. A sensible, clever
gentleman of that persuasion then present, told me that there could be no
doubt witchcraft was often practised in Lucknow, detailing things he had
often heard, about the wicked amongst human beings who practised muntah[5]
(incantations); and perhaps would have explained the motives and the
acquired power if I had been disposed to listen. I inquired of my friend,
as he had always appeared a religious person, whether he really believed
in magic, genii, evil agency, &c. He told me, that he did believe
certainly that such things still existed; but he added, 'such power can
only work on the weak or the wicked, for that heart whose dependance is
wholly fixed on God, has a sure protection from every evil, whether of man
or spirit. You have in your sacred book a full and ample delineation of
the works of magic, in the period of Moses, and also of Saul. In later
periods you have proofs of greater weight with you, where Christ cast out
devils and gave the same power to His disciples. My opinion,' he added,
'will not alter yours, nor do I wish it; neither would I argue or dispute
with you on subjects become obsolete in the enlightened world of which you
are a member, but as far as my own individual opinion is concerned, it is
my belief that all things are possible to the Almighty power and will of
God. And I see no right we have either to inquire why, or to dispute about
the motives by which His wisdom permits the weak to be afflicted for a
season, or the wicked to be punished in this life.'

I inquired if he had ever witnessed any of the strange events I
continually heard his people speak of, as having occurred in their
neighbourhood, such as people possessed with unclean spirits, sufficient
to confirm his belief in their probability. He replied, 'I have not only
witnessed but have, under Divine Providence, been the instrument to convey
relief to several different women, who suffered from being possessed by
evil spirits.' He then related the following, which I copy from the notes
I took at the time of his relation:--

'When I was a very young man, my mind was bent on inquiring into the truth
of the generally believed opinion, that some righteous men of our faith
had power granted to them to remove evil spirits from their victims. I
took the advice of a certain venerable person, who was willing to impart
his knowledge to me. Preparatory to my own practice, I was instructed to
forsake the haunts of man, and give myself wholly to prayer. Accordingly I
absented myself from my home, family, and friends, and led the life you
would call a hermit's; my food was simply herbs and fruits, and
occasionally an unleavened cake of my own preparing, whilst the nearest
tank of water supplied me with the only beverage I required; my clothing a
single wrapper of calico; my house a solitary chupha (a thatch of coarse
grass tied over a frame of bamboo), and this placed on the margin of a
wood, where seldom the feet of man strayed to interfere with, or disturb
my devotion. My days and nights were given to earnest prayer; seeking God
and offering praises with my mouth to Him, constituted my business and my
delight for nearly two whole years, during which time my friends had
sought me in vain, and many a tear I fear was shed at the uncertain fate
of one they loved so well in my father's house.'

'The simplicity of my mode of life, added to the veneration and respect
always paid to the Durweish's character, raised me in the opinion of the
few who from time to time had intruded on my privacy, to ask some boon
within my limits to give as a taawise[6] (talisman), which is in fact a
prayer, or else one of the names or attributes of God, in such a character
as best suited the service they required; for you must be told, in the
Mussulmaun faith, we count ninety-nine different names or titles to the
great merciful Creator and only true God. In many cases the taawise I had
so given, had been supposed by the party receiving them, to have been
instrumental in drawing down upon them the favour of God, and thus having
their difficulties removed; this induced others influenced by their report,
to apply to me, and at last my retirement was no longer the hermit's cell,
but thronged as the courtyard of a king's palace. My own family in this
way discovered my retreat, they urged and prevailed on me to return
amongst them, and by degrees to give up my abstemious course of life.

'The fame of my devotion, however, was soon conveyed to the world; it was
a task to shake off the entreaties of my poor fellow-mortals who gave me
more credit for holiness of life than I felt myself deserving of. Yet
sympathy prevailed on me to comfort when I could, although I never dared
to think myself deserving the implicit confidence they placed in me.

'On one occasion I was induced, at the urgent entreaties of an old and
valued friend, to try the effects of my acquired knowledge in favour of a
respectable female, whose family, and her husband in particular, were in
great distress at the violence of her sufferings. They fancied she was
troubled by a demon, who visited her regularly every eighth day; her
ravings when so possessed endangered her health, and destroyed the
domestic harmony of the house.

'The day was fixed for my visit, and the first exercise of my acquirements;
even then I had doubts on my mind whether the demons so often quoted did
really exist, or were but the disordered wanderings of imagination; and if
they did exist, I still was doubtful as to the extent of my knowledge
being sufficient to enable me to be the instrument for effecting the
desired benefit. Trusting faithfully, however, in God's help, and desiring
nothing but His glory, I commenced my operations. The woman was seated on
a charpoy (bedstead) behind a wadded curtain, which hid her from my view.
Respectable females, you are aware, are not allowed to be seen by any
males except very near relatives. I took my seat opposite the curtain with
the husband of the suffering woman, and entered into conversation with him
on general subjects.

'I soon heard the wild speeches of the woman, and my heart fully
sympathized in her sufferings. After preparing the sweet-scented flowers
for my purpose (it is believed all aerial beings feed on the scent of
flowers), fire was brought in a chafing-dish, at my request, and a copper
plate was placed on this fire, on which I strewed my prepared flowers
mixed up with drugs. Instantly the demon became furious in the woman,
calling out to me, "Spare me! spare me!"

'I should remark that the woman was so entirely hidden by the curtain as
to leave it beyond a doubt that she could not see what I was doing on the
other side, but she seemed, by the instinct of the evil spirit which
possessed her, to be thoroughly acquainted with the nature of my visit,
and the exertion I was making by prayer, for her release from the intruder.
The women attending her, her friends and relatives, had no power to
restrain her in the violence of her paroxysms; she tore the curtain with
more than human force, and it gave way, leaving her and the other women
exposed to my gaze.

'I would, from modesty, have retired, but her husband, having confidence
in my ability to help his afflicted wife, whom he loved most tenderly,
entreated me not to retire, but to think of the woman as my own sister.
The woman, or rather the demon in the woman, told me what I was going to
do was not withheld from her knowledge, desiring me immediately to leave
the place.

'"Who are you?" I inquired.--"I am the spirit of an old woman, who once
inhabited this house;" was answered by a coarse harsh voice.--"Why have
you dared to possess yourself of this poor female? she never could have
done you any injury."--"No," was answered, "not the female, but her
husband has taken possession of this house, and I am here to torment him
for it, by visiting his wife."

'"Do you know that I am permitted to have power to destroy you in this
fire?"--"Yes, but I hope you will shew mercy; let me escape and I will
flee to the forest."--"I cannot agree to this, you would then, being at
liberty, fasten yourself on some other poor mortal, who may not find one
to release him from your tyranny; I shall destroy you now;" and I was
actually preparing my methods for this purpose, when the screaming became
so violent, the poor woman's agony so terrific, that I dreaded her instant
death from the present agony of her ravings.

'"How am I to know you are what you represent yourself to be?" said I,
trying the softest manner of speech; (the poor victim appeared at ease
immediately).--"Ask me any question you please," was replied, apparently
by the woman, "and I will answer you." I rose and went into the front
entrance of the house, which is divided from the zeenahnah by a high wall,
as are all our Mussulmaun houses, and returned with something closely
concealed in my hand. I asked, "What is enclosed in my clenched hand?"--"A
piece of charcoal," was the prompt reply. It was so in truth; I could no
longer doubt.

'Another of the party was sent to the outer house; and, again I inquired,
"What is in this person's hand?"--"Grains of corn."--"Of what
nature?"--"Wheat." The hand was opened, and the contents were really as
was said;--confirming to all present, if they had ever doubted, that the
poor woman was possessed by the demon, as I have before represented.
Nearly two hours were spent in the most singular conversations, which,
whilst they amused me exceedingly, convinced me by my own observations of
the truth of that which I had but imperfectly believed before these trials.

'"I will certainly destroy you in this fire, unless you give me ample
assurances that you will never again annoy or torment this poor
inoffensive woman;" and, as I presented my preparation, the screams, the
cries of "Spare me! oh, spare me this fiery torment!" were repeated with
redoubled force. I asked, "What is your belief?"--"I believe in one God,
the Creator of all things;" was promptly answered.--"Then away to the
forest, the boon you first craved from me, nor again venture to return to
this house."

'The instant my command was given, the woman was calm, her reason restored
immediately; her shame and confusion were beyond expressing by words, as
she awoke from what she termed a dream of heavy terror that had
overpowered her. The appearance of a strange man,--herself but half clad,
for in the moments of raving she had torn off parts of her clothing,
leaving the upper part of her person entirely uncovered--nearly deprived
her again of returning reason; her husband's presence, however, soothed
her mind; but it was some time before her confusion was sufficiently
banished to enable her to converse freely with me. In answer to the
questions I asked of her, she replied that she had not the least
recollection of what had occurred. She fancied herself overpowered by a
dreadful dream which had agitated her greatly, though she could not
recollect what was the nature of that dream. I ordered some cooling
beverage to be prepared for my patient, and recommending rest and quiet,
took my leave, promising to visit her again in my professional character,
should any return of the calamity render my visit necessary. The whole
family heaped blessings and prayers on my head for the benefit they
believed I had been the instrument of Providence in rendering to their

'This was my first attempt at the practice I had been instructed in; and,
you may believe, I was gratified with the success with which my endeavours
had been crowned. For several months the lady continued quite well, when
some symptoms of irritability of temper and absence of mind warned her
husband and family of approaching danger upon which, they urged and
entreated my second visit. I went accompanied by several friends who were
curious to witness the effect expected to be produced by my prayer. It
appeared the poor woman was more calm on my first entrance, than when _I_
had previously visited her; but after repeating my form of prayer, the
most violent ravings followed every question I put to her.

'Many hours were spent in this way. The replies to my questions were
remarkable; she always answered, as if by the spirit with which she was
possessed. I demanded, "Why have you dared to return to this poor
creature? do you doubt my ability to destroy you?" The reply was, "had no
power to fix myself again on the woman, until you entered the house, but I
have hovered over her."--I said, "I do not believe that you are the soul
of a deceased old woman as you represent yourself to be; perhaps you may
wish to convince me, by answering the questions that will be made by me
and my friends." The several questions were then put and answered in a way
that surprised all present.

Afterwards, I said, "You professed when here on a former occasion, to
believe in God. Answer me now, to what sect of people did you
belong?"--"Sheikh," was the reply, "and I believe in one God of mercy and
of truth,"'--"Then you are my brother,'" I said, rising, and holding out
my hand to the woman, "we will shake hands."---"No, No!" replied the woman,
with great agitation and terror, "I beseech you not to touch me; the fire
which I dread would then torment me more than I could bear. I would
willingly shake hands with all here present, that would give me no pain,
but with you the case is different; one touch of yours would destroy me
immediately. Not to prolong my story, at the husband's earnest entreaty,
the evil soul was destroyed by the practice I had learned, and the poor
woman, restored to health and peace, was no more troubled by her enemy."

When this story was related, I fancied it a mere fable of the relator's
brain to amuse his audience; but on a more intimate acquaintance with him,
I find it to be his real opinion that he had been instrumental in the way
described, in removing evil spirits from the possessed; nor could I ever
shake his confidence by any argument brought forward for that purpose
during many years of intimate acquaintance; which is the more to be
regretted as in all other respects he possesses a very superior and
intelligent mind, and as far as _I_ could judge of his heart by his life,
always appeared to be a really devout servant of God.

It is not surprising that the strongly grounded persuasion should be too
deeply rooted to give way to my feeble efforts; time, but more especially
the mercy of Divine goodness extended to them, will dissolve the delusion
they are as yet fast bound by, as it has in more enlightened countries,
where superstition once controlled both the ignorant and the scholar, in
nearly as great a degree as it is evident it does at this day the people
of India generally. Here the enlightened and the unenlightened are so
strongly persuaded of the influence of supernatural evil agency, that if
any one is afflicted with fits, it is affirmed by the lookers on, of
whatever degree, that the sick person is possessed by an unclean spirit.

If any one is taken suddenly ill, and the doctor cannot discover the
complaint, the opinion is that some evil spirit has visited the patient,
and the holy men of the city are then applied to, who by prayer may draw
down relief for the beloved and suffering object. Hence arises the number
of applications to the holy men for a written prayer, called taawise (
talisman) which the people of that faith declare will not only preserve
the wearer from the attacks of unclean spirits, genii, &c., but these
prayers will oblige such spirits to quit the afflicted immediately on
their being placed on the person. The children are armed from their birth
with talismans; and if any one should have the temerity to laugh at the
practice, he would be judged by these superstitious people as worse than a

[1] Kanhaiya, a name of the demigod Krishna, whom Kansa, the wicked King
of Mathura, tried to destroy. For the miracle-play of the
destruction of Kansa by Krishna and his brother Balarama, see Prof.
W. Ridgeway, _The Origin of Tragedy_, 140, 157, 190. The author seems
to refer to the Ramlila festival.


Back to Full Books