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FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY



BY THE SAME AUTHOR

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STUDIES FROM AN EASTERN HOME.
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5 .>



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FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN
HISTORY



BY

THE SISTER NIVEDITA

(MARGARET E. NOBLE)

M

AUTHOR OF

'THE WEB OF INDIAN LIFE," "THE MASTER AS i SAW HIM
"STUDIES FROM AN EASTERN HOME," ETC.



WITH 6 COLOURED PLATES
AND 22 OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS



LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON

FOURTH AVENUE & 30TH STREET, NEW YORK
BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS



All rights reserved



THE FOOTFALLS

WE hear them, O Mother !

Thy footfalls,
Soft, soft, through the ages

Touching earth here and there,
And the lotuses left on Thy footprints

Are cities historic,

Ancient scriptures and poems and temples,
Noble strivings, stern struggles for Right.

Where lead they, O Mother !

Thy footfalls ?

O grant us to drink of their meaning !
Grant us the vision that blindeth
The thought that for man is too high.
Where lead they, O Mother !
Thy footfalls ?

Approach Thou, O Mother, Deliverer !

Thy children, Thy nurslings are we !
On our hearts be the place for Thy stepping,

Thine own, Bhumia Devi, are we.
Where lead they, O Mother !
Thy footfalls ?



35



7764



CONTENTS



PAGE



THE HISTORY OF MAN AS DETERMINED BY PLACE i
THE HISTORY OF INDIA AND ITS STUDY . . 6

THE CITIES OF BUDDHISM 26

RAJGIR: AN ANCIENT BABYLON . . . -37

BEHAR 53

THE ANCIENT ABBEY OF AJANTA .... 60

THE CHINESE PILGRIM 138

THE RELATION BETWEEN BUDDHISM AND HIN-
DUISM ........ 152

ELEPHANTA THE SYNTHESIS OF HINDUISM . . 164
SOME PROBLEMS OF INDIAN RESEARCH . . -175
THE FINAL RECENSION OF THE MAHABHARATA . 189
THE RISE OF VAISHNAVISM UNDER THE GUPTAS . 204
THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NORTHERN

PILGRIMAGE 215

THE OLD BRAHMANICAL LEARNING . . .227
THE CITY IN CLASSICAL EUROPE: A VISIT TO

POMPEII ... . 247

A STUDY OF BENARES 257



ILLUSTRATIONS

COLOURED PLATES

THE PILGRIM Frontispiece

From Water-colour by GAGANENDRA NATH TAGORE

FACING PAGE

BUDDHA AND THE LAME KID .... 41
From Water-colour by NANDA LAL BOSE

THE BIRTH OF BUDDHA 80

From Water-colour by ABANINDRA NATH TAGORE

MOTHER AND CHILD 132

From Drawing by NANDA LAL BOSE of the Fresco
painting at Ajanta

BUDDHA ON THE THRESHOLD OF RENUNCIATION . 136

From Drawing by NANDA LAL BOSE of the Fresco
painting at Ajanta

WORSHIP 275

From Water-colour by NANDA LAL BOSE

PLATES

GENERAL VIEW OF AJANTA CAVES ... 60

AJANTA : FRONT OF CAVE NINETEEN ... 62

AJANTA : INTERIOR OF CAVE NINETEEN . . 67

AJANTA: SCULPTURE IN CAVE TWENTY . . 71

THE FIRST SERMON AT BENARES .... 84



x FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

FACING PAGE

SARNATH BUDDHA ... ... 87

FRESCO PAINTING AT AJANTA .... 90

Photo by Messrs. JOHNSTON AND HOFFMANN

FRESCO DESIGNS OF AJANTA 93

Photo by Messrs. JOHNSTON AND HOFFMANN

COMPARTMENT FROM THE THIRD ARCHWAY OF

THE EAST GATEWAY AT SANCHI . . -95

CAVE AT KARLI 96

Photo by Messrs. JOHNSTON AND HOFFMANN

BUDDHA'S LOTUS THRONE SUPPORTED BY NAGAS

(KENHERI CAVES) 99

OLD INDIAN CLAY SEAL FROM BODH-GAYA . .100
RELIEF FROM MUHAMMAD NARI, IN YUSUFZAI . . 115

GAUTAMA ON THE PADMASANA . . . . 117
From LORIYAN TANGAI

OLD NEPAL STONE FIGURE OF GAUTAMA BUDDHA 118

BUDDHA VISITED BY SAKRA AT THE INDRASAILA . 120

AJANTA: PILLARS OF CAVE NUMBER SIXTEEN . 127

AJANTA: VERANDA OF CAVE NUMBER SEVENTEEN 128

AJANTA: INTERIOR OF CAVE NUMBER TWENTY-SIX 130

CAVES OF ELEPHANTA 164

Photo by Messrs. JOHNSTON AND HOFFMANN

BENARES 258

Photo by Messrs. JOHNSTON AND HOFFMANN

THE GHATS, BENARES 269

k Photo by Messrs. JOHNSTON AND HOFFMANN



FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN
HISTORY

THE HISTORY OF MAN AS
DETERMINED BY PLACE

THE character of a people is their history as written
in their own subconscious mind, and to understand
that character we have to turn on it the lime-light
of their history. Then each anomaly is explained,
and the whole becomes a clear and consistent
result of causes traced to their very root. In the
same way the geographical distribution of ideas
falls under the same explanation as absolutely as
that of plants or animals. A map of a country is
only a script produced by all the ages of its
making. In the beautiful maps of the past, in
which rivers are seen with their true value as the
high roads of nature, the veins and arteries of
civilisations, this fact was still more apparent than
to-day, when the outstanding lines of connection
between cities are railways, the channels of the
drainage of wealth being of more importance than
those of its production. Yet even now it is the



2, FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

river-made cities that the railways have to connect.
Even the twentieth century cannot escape the
conditions imposed by the past.

Only the history of Asia explains the geography
of Asia. Empire means organisation, organisation
whose basis is the consciousness of a unity that
transcends the family. That is to say, empire
demands as its preceding condition a strong civic
concept. Two types of empire have occurred
within the last two thousand years : one the crea-
tion of the fisher-peoples of the European coast-
line, the other of the tribesmen of Central Asia and
Arabia. In the one case, the imperialising instinct
is to be accounted for by the commercial thirst
natural to those whose place has always been on
the prehistoric trade-route. It may be true, as
suggested by a distinguished scholar, that the
salmon-fishery of Norway, with its tightly organ-
ised crew, giving birth to the pirate-fisher, the
Viking, and he to the Norman, is to be regarded as
the father of the Feudal System and immediate
ancestor of all modern European Empire. Such
considerations can, however, by no means account
for the Roman Empire. To this it might be
answered that behind Rome lay Greece and Car-
thage ; behind Greece and Carthage, Phoenicia and
Crete ; and that here we come once more on the
element of trade-routes and fisher-peoples. A
strong sense of unity precedes aggression, and the
sense of unity is made effective through internal
definition and self-organisation. Such organisation



THE HISTORY OF MAN 3

is obviously easy to gain by the conquest of the
sea, where captain, first mate, and second mate
will be a father, with his eldest son and second
son, and where the slightest dereliction from mili-
tary discipline on the part of one may involve
instant peril of death to all. Thus the family gives
place, in the imagination, to the crew, as the organ-
ised unit of the human fabric, and the love of
hearthside and brood becomes exalted into that
civic passion which can offer up its seven sons and
yet say with firm voice, " Sweet and seemly is it to
die for one's country."

The second type of imperial organisation, seen
within the last two thousand years, is the pastoral
empire of Central Asia and Arabia. Islam was the
religious form taken by the national unification of a
number of pastoral tribes in Arabia. Mohammed,
the Prophet of God, was in truth the greatest
nation-maker who has ever appeared. The earliest
associations of the Arabs are inwoven with the
conception of the tribe as a civic unity, transcend-
ing the family unity ; and the necessity of frontier-
tribal relationships and courtesies at once suggests
the idea of national inclusiveness, and creates a
basis for national life. On these elements were
laid the foundation of the thrones of Baghdad,
Constantinople, and Cordova. The Hunnish,
Scythic, and Mohammedan empires of India have,
each in its turn, been offshoots from the nomadic
organisations of Central Asia. The very name of
the Moghul dynasty perpetuates its Tartar origin.



4 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

Here again, we see examples of the educational
value of tribal and pastoral life, in preparing com-
munities for the organisation of nations and
empires.

In the far past, those shadowy empires whose
memories are all but dead to man the Assyrian,
the Parthian, the Median, and some others seem
to have based their powers of aggression arid co-
operation on the instincts and associations of the
hunter. From one point of view, the hunter is on
land what the fisher is on water ; and the soldier
is only a hunter of men. But the mind of man is
supreme. Even the results of a peculiar occupa-
tional education may be appropriated by others,
through the intellect alone. In ancient Egypt the
world saw a peasant nation stirred to emulation
by the sight of empires Hittite, Babylonian,
Cretan, and perhaps Phoenician and fully able to
protect itself by its grasp of the idea of national
solidarity and self-defence. This is the value of
science, that it analyses a fact, displays the secret
of power, and enables man to formulate new
methods for arriving at the old result.

The sense of unity can only occur, as a spiritual
reaction on the mind, against a manifoldness.
Whether it be the cities of Egypt, the tribes of
Arabia and Tartary, or the fleet of pirate vessels
from many kindred harbours that give birth to
this sense, it needs when born to be watched,
trained, and guided in definite ways. The patri-
arch, deeply versed in strategy, must be still more



THE HISTORY OF MAN 5

experienced in the maintenance of intertribal
peace. The men who unite, with the energy of
the thunderbolt, for the attainment of the common
goal of heart and conscience, must be men
accustomed to combined action and sustained
co-operation ; men who know the grounds of their
faith in one another ; men who are familiar with
certain outstanding principles of conduct, and
constantly dominated by them. Such character,
such experience, is built up for the service of the
nation by social forms like those of tribe and
crew and lion-hunt. The requisite discipline is
conferred by the necessity of obedience on peril
of death. The large outlook and due combination
of readiness for war with love of peace are created
by lifelong considerations of the common good
and the way in which it is to be served by a clear
mutual understanding. And all these results have
been produced on mankind, unsought, by its
history and its environment.



THE HISTORY OF INDIA AND
ITS STUDY

I

INDIA as she is is a problem which can only be
read by the light of Indian history. Only by a
gradual and loving study of how she came to be,
can we grow to understand what the country
actually is, what the intention of her evolution,
and what her sleeping potentiality may be.

We are often told that Indian literature includes
no histories. It is said that the Rajatarangini in
Kashmir, the Dipawamsa and Mahawamsa in
Ceylon, and the records made after their accession
to power by the Mohammedans are the only real
works of history which she possesses. Even if
this be true and we shall be better able to discuss
the question in a generation or two we must
remember that India herself is the master-docu-
ment in this kind. The country is her own record.
She is the history that we must learn to read.
There are those who say that history as a form of
literature can never survive the loss of political
power, and that this is the reason why India has
not more works of an accurate and dynastic
character. Those who urge this believe that at

6



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 7

each new epoch in her history vast numbers of
chronicles belonging to the past have been de-
stroyed. May be. On the other hand, we may
find in our family pedigrees the counterpart and
compensation for this feature of other national
literatures. The little band of devoted scholars
who are already at work on the history of Bengal
tell us that their great trouble is to keep pace with
their material. It pours in upon them day after
day. The difficulty is to keep to-day's opinion
so fluid and receptive that it shall not conflict
with, or be antagonistic to, to-morrow's added
knowledge. There may not at the moment be in
our inheritance from the past many formal works
of history. But perhaps the swimmer, who knows
the joy of the plunge into deep waters and strong
currents, is glad. Such minds feel that they have
abundance of material for the writing of history,
and are thankful indeed that this has been left
for them to do.

It will be from amongst the records of home
and family-life that light will be shed upon the
complete history of Bengal. It will be by search-
ing into caste origins and tribal traditions that real
data will be gathered for estimating the antiquity
of processes. It is said that an overwhelming pro-
portion of the higher-caste families of Bengal came
from Magadha. If this be so, it is necessary to
assume that there was at a certain time a whole-
sale evacuation of Magadha. This would agree
so well with the facts of history the removal of



8 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

the capital to Gour, on the destruction of Patali-
putra, and the immense cultural potentiality of
the Bengali people that the suggestion cannot
fail to form a dominant note in subsequent re-
search. Such research must for some time be of
a deeply inductive character. That is to say, it
will proceed by the accumulation of particulars.
This process is the ideal of modern science, and
it may be said that so arduous and so against
the natural appetite of the human mind is it,
that few there be that attain unto it. Yet as an
ideal its greatness is unquestionable. Conclusions
reached by careful gathering of facts without bias
towards one or reaction against another theory
are incontrovertible. For this reason anyone who
can bring forward one fact out of the far past,
however private or circumscribed may seem its
significance, so long as it is unknown and certain,
is doing a service to historians. For progress
must for some time depend upon this accumula-
tion. We must investigate the elements in order
to come at true concepts of the whole.

When we have reached a new fact, the next
effort should be to relate it to known central
events. We know for instance that capitals
changed in Bengal from Pataliputra to Gour,
and from Gour to Vikrampur. These transitions
could not take place without immense social con-
sequences. The ruins of Behar mark the long
struggle of Bengal against invasion. This fact
belongs to her military history. But another



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 9

record is found in her industrial development.
The transfer of government from the old Hindu
centre of Vikrampur to the Mohammedan capitals
of Dacca and Murshidabad, meant, in its turn,
great changes in the direction of arts and crafts.
It would be marked by new tendencies in the
matter of taste, the old artistic power exerting
itself to meet new standards. We must accustom
ourselves to the psychological analysis of orna-
ment and the historical and geographical placing
of works of art, in order to understand the im-
mense influence of great political events upon
private life and interests. Architecture, music, and
poetry are things higher than the concrete in-
dustrial crafts of home and household life, yet
marked, no less surely, with the era to which they
belong. By learning to refer everything to its
own time and to the state of mind that gave it
birth, we build up in ourselves a wonderful readi-
ness for the graver and more serious aspects of
history. We learn too that lesson which botanists,
zoologists, and geologists have had during the
last century to learn and teach, namely, that things
which are found together may have taken wide
distances of space and time to produce. The
poems of Vidyapati and Ram Mohun Roy may
stand side by side in our hymn-books, but what
travail of the human spirit lies between the making
of the two ! In ages of normal growth a new
mode, in building, or graving, or thinking, is born
but slowly, and goes much deeper than we can



io FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

imagine in these degenerate days of trumpery and
passing fashions. No one who has been in the
Fort of Agra, and noted the styles of using black
and white marble against red sandstone, distinc-
tive of the reigns of Akbar, Jehangir, and Shah
Jehan, could afterwards make a mistake as to
which of these a particular pattern must be assigned
to. The designs appear side by side at Agra, yet
it took three reigns to make them possible.

The year, as we go through it, constitutes another
kind of historical record. The festivals of the
old village life which follow each other in such
quick and delightful succession throughout the
twelve or thirteen moons of the solar year, are
not all effects of some single cause. On the con-
trary, the Car-festival of July hails from Buddhism,
and has the great metropolis of its observance at
Puri on the Orissan coast. But Janmashtami
belongs to the Vaishnavism of Krishna, and turns
our eyes in a very different direction, to Mathura
and Brindaban. The Dewali Puja, again, con-
nects us on the one side with the famous Japanese
Feast of Lanterns, and on the other with Latin
and Celtic anniversaries of the souls of the dead.
How different are the thought-worlds out of which
spring inspirations so various as all these ! How
long a period must each have had, in order to
win its present depth and extent of influence !
The very year as it passes, then, is a record of
the changing ideas that have swept in succession
across the Indian mind.



THE HISTORY OF INDIA n

It is a characteristic of India that almost every
great outstanding thought and doctrine has some-
where or other a place devoted to its maintenance
and tradition. This brings us to the thought of
the geographical synthesis. The whole of India
is necessary to the explanation of the history of
each one of its parts. The story of Krishna comes
from the Jumna, that of Rama from Ayodhya.
Other elements may not be so easily assignable
to their places of birth, but it is quite certain that
when studied hard enough from that point of
view each will be found to have its own definite
area of origin. India is at once the occasion and
the explanation of the web of Indian thought.
But yet, throughout Bengal at any rate, there is
a certain definite agreement as to which elements
shall be included in the list of yearly celebrations,
and in what order. Not all the great things of
Indian memory are commemorated thus. There
has evidently been a certain selection made and
a certain rule imposed by some one or other at
some definite time. Throughout Bengal there is
no great disagreement as to the festivals and the
order in which they occur. The selection must
have been made therefore by some person, or
body of persons, whose influence was universal in
the province. It is a conception that penetrates
everywhere, therefore the shaping pressure of this
all-pervading influence must have been long-con-
tinued. It may have lasted perhaps for centuries.
It does not seem to have been a personal influence,



12 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

for individuals change their policy of government
under caprice or circumstance from generation
to generation. This would seem rather to have
been a steady concensus of opinion, a strong
vested interest uniformly exerted in a certain
direction. But the complexity of the matter ruled
upon, would point to some central seat of counsel
and decision again, with as little that was purely
personal in its authority as it is possible to imagine.
Lastly, whatever was the source of deliberation,
it is clear that there must have been a consoli-
dated royal authority to give its support to the
decisions of this centre, without flinching or chang-
ing, throughout the formative period. Only by a
combination of all these conditions can we account
for the uniformity and regularity with which so
complex a yearly calendar is worked out, from
one end of Bengal to the other.

If we wish to be clear about the element of


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