It is perhaps, because Benares is not forbidden, that such a
mine of human interest and one of the most extraordinary cities of the East, is
now probably less known to most Europeans than Lhasa. Even of the Europeans
who have seen Benares, few have any adequate conception of the ideas and
beliefs which many millions of our fellow-subjects associate with it. Few indeed
have either the time or the inclination to read through the increasing accumulation
of very solid literature which deals with the philosophic side of Hinduism; and the
more popular missionary accounts generally make the mistake of representing all
Hinduism as a mass of degraded superstitions and idolatry, only held together by
the profound ignorance and backwardness of the Indian people.
sketches are not offered as a contribution to oriental scholarship, or to religious
controversy, but as an attempt to give an intelligible outline of Hindu ideas and
religious practices, and especially as a presentation of the imaginative and
artistic side of Indian religions, which can be observed at few places so well as in
the sacred city and its neighbourhood the birthplace of Buddhism and of one of
the principal sects of Hinduism.
The illustration have been for the most part
specially prepared to elucidate the text, and include some of the remarkable
discoveries made this year at Sarnath. They will it is hopea, give some idea of
the wonderful artistic, wealth of Benares life, and at the same time be more
instructive than those of ordinary books of travel.
The authorities consulted
include Sherring's Sacred City of the Hindus; The Life and Times of Sri
Sankaracharya, by C. Krishnasami Aiyar; and the works of Barth, Beal, Sylvain
Levi, Rhys Davids, Monier Willians, Max Muller, Taylor and many others. My
acknowledgements are due to messrs. E.J. Lazarus and Co. of Benares, for
permission to use Mr. Ralph Griffiths' translation of the Rig-veda; and to Messrs.
Som Brothers, Calcutta for extracts from Pandit Tattvabhushan's translations of
I am indebted to H.H. the Maharajah of Benares and staff for
much courteous assistance; and to Babus Abanindro Nath Tagore, Dinesh
Chandra Sen, and other Indian friends for valuable information.
Marshell, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, Dr. Vogel,
Messrs. Johnstone and Hoffman, Calcutta and Messrs. Saeed Bros., Benares,
have kindly helped me with some of the illustrations.
Calcutta, October, 1905.
Children’s Books (51)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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