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the idea of Brahma as the creator has evidently
not yet been supplanted amongst the Aryan classes,
and yet the doctrine of the Trinity is implicit, for
Brahma shows the assumption that Vishnu is His
own equal. Krishna conquers the snake Kaliya, and
leaves His own footprint on his head. Here is the
same struggle that we can trace in the personality
of Shiva as Nageswara between the new devotional
faith and the old traditional worship of snakes and
serpents. He persuades the shepherds to abandon
the sacrifice to Indra. Here He directly overrides
the older Vedic gods, who, as in some parts of the
Himalayas to-day, seem to know nothing of the
interposition of Brahma. And throughout the
Mahabharata Shiva gives testimony to the divinity
of Krishna, but Krishna never says a word about
that of Shiva ! That is to say, the divinity of Shiva
was well known, was taken for granted, by both
poet and audience, but that of Krishna had yet to
be established. We shall find that in the ritual of
the South the religious procession forms as im-
portant a feature as it must have been in the
Buddhist chatty as. Here we read of authoritative
organisation in a period when such spectacles had
powerfully impressed the pious imagination.



THE RISE OF VAISHNAVISM 213

It would appear therefore that a great formative
movement took place in the history of Vaishnavism
when India was potentially united under the Guptas,
and when Buddhism had become so highly de-
veloped and over-ripe that the story of its origin
was losing definiteness in the popular mind. This
epoch saw the synthesis, under indisputable suzerain
authority, of the doctrinal Krishna, Partha-Sarathi,
speaker of the Gita y and the popular Krishna, the
Gopala of Gokool, and Hero of Mathura. The
same period saw missions despatched to the South
for the preaching of this great consolidated faith,
and the parcelling out of Garhwal and Kumaon, in
the Himalayas, as pre-eminently the land of the
Pandava tirtkas. This consolidation of the story
and idea of Krishna was in all probability con-
nected with the last recension of the Mahabharata,
which was probably in its turn the work of an
official synod of poets under Samudra Gupta and
Chandra Gupta II, Vikramaditya, between A.D. 330
and 455. We know for a fact that the succeeding
Guptas were devoted worshippers of Narayana in
His incarnation as Krishna, and that in this worship
Krishna the son of Devaki, and Krishna the slayer
of Kansa, were joined.

Not yet however have we exhausted the story
of Indian Vaishnavism. Even before the rise of
Saivism there had been a still older worship of
Vishnu. When the idea of the Trinity came in,
with the idea of the exaltation of Shiva, Vishnu
was at once made its Second Person. In all lists of



214 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

the gods Ganesha, Surya, Indra, Brahma or Agni,
Vishnu, Shiva and Durga He is named before
Shiva. In this fact there must be history. Out
of that history came the centuries of Vaishnavism
which, in consolidated Hinduism of the ages suc-
ceeding Sankaracharya, formed one of the two
strands of which the rope of the national faith was
twisted. From the time of the early Buddhism
onwards we may watch the growth of an organised
Indian faith in which Saivism and Vaishnavism are
oscillating phases. A century of silence means
only some episode to be recovered and recorded.
Numberless must be the links between Sankar-
acharya and Chaitanya ; for it is part and parcel
of the nature of things that the Hindu development
shall proceed by a regular alternation from Saivism
to Vaishnavism and Vaishnavism to Saivism, and
that the epoch-maker, the Avatar, shall be born
again and again.



THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
OF THE NORTHERN PILGRIMAGE

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE SEQUENCE OF
HINDUISM AS SEEN IN THE HIMALAYAS

Buddhism and prehistoric Hinduism, largely planetary,
worship of Daksha, Ganesh, Garud, Narasinha, &c.

Hindu Shiva in succession to Brahma the four-headed
Shivas at Gopeswar, the four-headed Dharma-chakra at
Agastyamuni and at Joshi Math.

Era of Devi-worship Synthetising itself to Siva, with
Ganesha as son. Nine forms of Devi, Kedar Nath, Joshi
Math, Shiva and Parbati. Later, Shiva becomes Ard-
hanari the Shiva in three stages, and as at Gupta Kashi,
also Gopeswar, also Devi Dhura, above Kathgodam, also
Kamaleswar in Srinagar.

Possible Era of the Ramayana Dronprayag and all
places named on behalf of Rama, &c.

Era of the Mahabharata, bringing in worship of Satya
Narayana. Traces numerous, Vyasa Ganga to Kedar
Nath, &c.

Temple of five Pandavas, before entering Srinagar.

Sankaracharyan Shiva-worship. Bilwakedar, Kedar
Nath, Bhethu Chati.

Mediaeval Vaishnavism. Srinagar, Gupta Kashi, Bhethu
Chati, Kedar Nath, and the valleys of Badri Narayana.

Shiva again substituted for Narayana at Gupta Kashi
under pressure of some special circumstances.

It must be understood that each of these phases is liable
to develop itself continuously from its inception, so that none



216 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

of the succeeding eras stand alone. At each place named,
it may be only a trace that is left of any given era. It
must not be expected that the site shall be eloquent of it.

THE great places of pilgrimage, Kedar Nath and
Badri Narayana,in the Himalayas, are to be regarded
as the cathedral cities of adjacent dioceses. Each
has its four dependent centres, and the still smaller
diocese of Gopeswar has also its minor sites of
religious importance. On the road to Gangotri
there is an old religious capital called Barahat ;
and Adi Badri must not be forgotten on the road
to Kathgodam. By all, the visit of Sankaracharya
sometime between A.D. 600 and 800 is claimed
as if it had been a recent event, vividly remembered ;
and this would tend, other things being conformable,
to show that these sites were already old at the
time of his coming. We can hardly doubt that
this was so. It is evident enough that in his
name a strong wave of Saivism swept up all the
valleys of the Himalayas. It is this wave, the
work of this gigantic epoch-making mind, that
finally purged the Saivite idea of all its prehistoric
physical elements, and fastened upon Shiva the
subtle poetic conception of the great monk, throned
on the snows and lost in one eternal meditation.
Everything in Hindu imagery of Mahadeva that
conflicts with this notion is pre-Sankaracharyan.

Even in this, however, it must be remembered
that Sankaracharya is rather the end of a process
than an individual. In the Kumar a Sambhava, the
Birth of the War Lord, of Kalidasa, we see the same



THE NORTHERN PILGRIMAGE 217

Aryanizing process at work on the congeries of
elements that even then were seething and fuming
about the feet of one who would fain cast himself
upon the ocean of the thought of God as Shiva.
A people that had learnt under Buddhism to
worship the solitary life of spiritual culture, a people
whose every instinct made for the sanctity of the
home and the purity of the family, found them-
selves on the one hand enwrapt by the conception
of God as the Great Monk, and on the other puzzled
by the presence of Parbati with a train of alien
associations. The riddle was solved by the genius of
Kalidasa. In the Kumara Sambhava he vindicated
triumphantly the Indian ideal of woman and
marriage. In Uma we have a vision of life and
love in which the Aryan imagination can rest with-
out tremor or misgiving. The last remnant of early
Bacchus-ideals is banished, however, by the stern
fiat of Sankaracharya. Even the popular imagina-
tion is called into leash. The Great God is
established finally as the light of knowledge within
the soul, Purusha the stirless, the Destroyer of
Ignorance. The great prayer to Rudra :

From the Unreal lead us to the Real !

From Darkness lead us unto Light !

From Death lead us to Immortality !

Reach us through and through ourself

And evermore protect us Oh Thou Terrible !

from ignorance,
By Thy Sweet Compassionate Face !

might well have been the utterance of Sankaracharya



218 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

in the hour of placing the keystone in the arch of
the national conception.

The emblem of Shiva which was established
by the teacher for worship, in supersession of all
others, would seem to have been the hump or
heap of natural rock, as we find it at Kedar Nath,
at the Kedar Nath monastery in Benares, at Bil-
wakedar, and elsewhere. I found it recently in a
temple on the Ganges bank above Dakkhineswar.
The emblem that had been in use before his
time was undoubtedly that in three stages cube,
octagonal cylinder, and thimble-shaped top the
form which was universal in the time of Varaha-
mihira, A.D. 550.

But this Shiva was too intimately associated
with the image of Ardha-nari, even as we find it
at Gupta Kashi, to be tolerable to the fastidious
mind of Sankaracharya. He would have no Shiva
in the midst of his Saktis the interpretation
which had now transformed the four-headed
Brahma into the Tantrik Mahadeva, as at Gopeswar,
and at Chandra Nath near Chittagong.

Nor would he have a form even remotely
capable of a phallic rendering. To this fiery
monastic intelligence such a significance was in
itself degradation. Back, then, to the ancient
sanctity of the mound, back to the purity and
simplicity of nature ! By a curious irony of
history, the violent enemy of Buddhist Tantrik
abuses became the restorer of the Buddhist stupa
to worship ! The taste of the whole people en-



THE NORTHERN PILGRIMAGE 219

dorsed his criticism, and, even as they seem to
have accepted his repudiation of human sacrifice
in the cause of Mother-worship at Srinagar, so
at each sacred site they set up the Great God for
supreme veneration, and where this deity was new
they established Him in his Sankaracharyan form.
At Gupta Kashi, whatever its name then was,
Shiva was already worshipped as Ardha-nari, and
no change was made, though we cannot doubt
that the spiritual impact of the new thought was
adequately realised. But at Kedar Nath itself,
and at Bhethu Chati, where Satya-Narayana, or
Vishnu was the chief deity, Shiva in his new form
was substituted.

The same tide of the Sankaracharyan energy
swept also over the valleys leading up to Badri
Narayan, and Joshi Math and Pipal-koti still
remain to testify to the pre-Ramanuja Saivism
of these parts. But at Joshi Math there are
traces in abundance of a world still older than
that of Sankaracharya. Its theological name
Dhyani Badri suggests to the ear that Badri is
a corruption of Buddha, and opens up a long
vista of antiquity. Whether this be so or not,
its position on the Tibetan road has exposed it
to a whole series of influences from which the
more secluded valleys of Kedar Nath have been
protected. By comparing the two, we may perhaps
succeed in computing the number and importance
of the Mongolian elements that have entered into
the great synthesis called Hinduism.



220 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

The true place of Badri Narayan in history may
perhaps be better understood when it is mentioned
that it was long a pilgrimage of obligation to the
Tibetan lamas, and that even now certain Tibetan
monasteries pay it tribute. It is for them, in fact,
the first of that chain of sacred places that ends
for the Buddhistic nations with Gaya. Seen from
this point of view the importance of Badri Narayana
as a place of sraddh acquires a new significance.
It is the holiest of all. The requiem that has been
said here may be repeated nowhere else. The
dead whose repose has here been prayed for
reach final peace. It will, I think, be found that
there is no special place of sraddh in India which
is not either a place of Buddhistic pilgrimage, or
else, like Deva Prayag, an important point on the
Tibetan road. And while the habit of prayer for
and benediction of the dead is one to which the
human heart everywhere must respond, there is
not an equal universality, perhaps, in the mode of
thought that regards as somehow spoilt and
exhausted, the rice, furnishings, and money that
are dedicated as oblations to the departed. There
is in this an element curiously incongruous with
our modern Indo-European modes of feeling,
though it has much that is kindred to it in ancient
Egyptian and in the Chinese faith. Yet the poetry
of the prayer that can be perfected only on the
sunlit heights of Badri Narayan none will, I think,
gainsay. Here sorrow ends in peace. Here the
dead parent and the living child are uplifted



THE NORTHERN PILGRIMAGE 221

together in a common soothing. And the Love
of God throbs out, like a lighted lamp within the
shrine, across that temple-court, where the women
perform pradakshma, telling their beads and lost
in the dream beyond life and death alike.

The mediaeval Vaishnavism that began with
Ramanuja and dominated the whole life of India
in so many ways during the Middle Ages, captured
Badri Narayan and its subject seats. But at
Kedar Nath it only succeeded in establishing the
minor pilgrimage of Triyugi Narayana in the imme-
diate neighbourhood. The name of this shrine
marks the same eager ambition as is found in the
legend of Narada at the temple of the five Pan-
davas in Srinagar, to claim for itself continuity with
an older pre-Sankaracharyan orthodox authentic
Hinduism. This was the same Vaishnavism that
blossomed later into the Ramayana of Tulsi Das.
It was the same that found expression in Guru
Nanak in the Punjab, in Tukaram in Maharashtra,
and even though in such different form in Chait-
anya in Bengal. Alike in the life of Ramanuja, in
Chaitanya, in Guru Nanak, and in Tukaram, it is
pre-eminently an uprising of the people. In
Meera Bai in Rajputana it represents opportunity
for women, and in the Himalayas at least it found
expression in a new order of architecture, seen in
perfection at Bhethu Chati the tall lily-like tower
crowned with the amalaki, which is slightly more
modern than the great temple of Bhubaneswar in
Orissa, even as that represents a later phase of the



222 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

Bodh-Gaya type. One of the most interesting
problems of Indian history lies in the question why
a movement that was marked by so many common
features throughout the rest of India should have
assumed so distinctive a character in Bengal.
Vaishnavism as a whole is a subject that calls for
careful and extensive study. Its history will be
found to be twisted out of many strands, and it will
often happen that some slight disagreement on a
point of doctrine or symbolism indicates a differ-
ence of ages and of provinces in origin. Going
back to the period before the Saivism of Sankara-
charya and before even the Satya-Narayana that
it superseded, what do we find, of an older
Hinduism still ? There can be no doubt that the
Ramachandra of Deva-Prayag is older. Here
Ramachandra would seem to have been established
before the time of the Guptas (A.D. 319 onwards)
when Shiva was the chief deity of Hinduism. Just
as in the Ramayana itself, so also here at Deva-
Prayag, the one statement made and emphasized is
that Rama the Incarnation of Vishnu is Shiva.
That is to say, the Godhead of Shiva, when this
site was dedicated, was nowhere in dispute. It was
not a point that called for argument. We cannot
help wondering if there was not an early attempt
to Ramay anise the whole Himavant, so to say.
Lakshman Jhula met us at the very outset of our
journey. And it is certain that "the days of
Rama " seem antiquity itself to the people, and
that every village not otherwise named is Rampur
or Rambarra or Ramnagar.



THE NORTHERN PILGRIMAGE 223

Whether this was so or not, it is fairly certain that
in the age when a knowledge of the Mahabharata
represented ideal culture, a great and authoritative
effort was made to associate this whole region with
the Pandavas. That the attempt was undertaken
with an eye to the work as literature, and not on
the basis of prehistoric traditions, is shown by the
little chapel dedicated to Vyasa, in the valley of
Vyasaganga. Here the pilgrim about to follow up
the stations of the Mahabharata could first make
salutation to the master-poet. Of all the elements
contained in this particular stratum of tradition,
the personality of Bhima or, as the people call
him, " Bhim Sen " the strong man of Hinduism,
stands out as most prehistoric. There is here
something unique, something that has a sanction
of its own in the popular mind not derived from
its place in the national epic.

If there really was a prior movement for connect-
ing Himavant with the ideas of the Ramayana,
succeeded by the Mahabharata-epoch bringing
in the worship of Satya-Narayana then before
either of these came the great era of Devi. There
is a chapel of the nine forms of Devi still at
Kedar Nath, and the oldest and most active of the
seven minor temples at Joshi Math contains the
same images. In order really to understand this
idea, it would be necessary to make a separate and
complete study of it, as it is found in all the differ-
ent parts of India. But in the meantime it is fairly
certain that in its most elaborate form it made its



224 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

advent into these mountains before the era of Satya-
Narayana, and it is worth while also to note the
relationship of its great centres to the Tibetan
road. Two of these are Gopeswar, and Devi
Dhura.

The impulse of Devi-worship seems to have
been synthetizing. It attached itself to that cult of
Shiva which was already accepted and, carrying
with it the prehistoric Ganesha, established a holy
family. No one who has heard the tale of the
headless Ganesha below Kedar Nath can fail to
recognise the fact that this god had already had a
history, before being established as the son of Shiva
and Parbati. The frequency of his images is one
of the surest marks of age in a Shiva-shrine, and
his medallion over the door of the chaitya-shaped
building that covers the spring at Bhethu Chati,
marks out that structure, as surely as does its
Buddhistic form, for the oldest of the buildings in
the neighbourhood.

Before any of these developments there came the
Buddhistic missionaries, who from the time of the
great Nirvana, carried the Gospel to the Himavant.
Of this phase of history little or no trace remains,
save in the chaitya-form of the shrine of the Mother
at Gopeswar, the spring-cover at Bhethu Chati,
and the temple of the nine forms of Devi at Joshi
Math, and in the fact that at Nalla we see the
development of the temple out of the stupa.
Whether besides this the very word tf Badri "
with its " Dhyani Badri " as the esoteric name of



THE NORTHERN PILGRIMAGE 225

Joshi Math is also a trace of Buddhism must be
decided by others. One thing is clear. All the
Buddhistic texts and deeds that are written on
birch-bark come from the Himalayas, and as these
are many, the Himalayas must have been the scene
of great life and activity during the Buddhistic
period.

The whole region of the pilgrimage, even better
than that of Orissa, forms a cul-de-sac of Hinduism
in which one may study the birth and origin of
manifold things that have gone to form the great
synthesis of the national faith. The sensitiveness
that certain sites have shown to the whole historic
sequence of religious developments marks their
early establishment as Buddhistic centres. And in
every case we find the characteristic that distin-
guishes the Hindu temple still, the tendency to
gather round the central theme or shrine an account
of the religion as it stands at the moment. The
tendency to crowd on a single site temple, stupa,
sacred tree, school, monastery, and dharmsala is
one that may be seen in Buddhist countries still,
throwing a flood of light on the genesis of such
places as Agastyamuni, Kamaleswar, Nalla, and
Gopeswar.

The northern tirtha forms a great palimpsest of
the history of Hinduism. Record has here been
written upon record. Wave has succeeded wave.
And still the bond that knits these farthest points
north to the farthest south is living and unbroken,
and the people stream along the pilgrim roads in



226 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

worship, to testify to the fact that without the
conception of India as a whole we can explain no
single part or item of the Indian life. But the
greatest of all syntheses is that which is written in
the minds and hearts of the simple Himalayan
peasantry themselves. Successive waves of sec-
tarian enthusiasm have made their country what it
is, but the people themselves are no sectaries. To
them Shiva, Devi, and Narayan are all sacred, and
in their grasp of the higher philosophy of Hinduism
they are without exception true Hindus.



THE OLD BRAHMANICAL
LEARNING

IN following up the history of any one of the
Indian vernacular literatures, one is likely to be
struck with the fact that they take their subjects
for the most part from somewhere else, from some-
thing outside themselves. They are organs of
response, not altogether seats of creativeness ; they
give expression to something which they have first
received. There is of course a layer of vernacular
literature socially the most rustic and plebeian
which is the repository of the tastes of the people.
Here the common motives of popular romance
love, hate, desertion, fortune, reunion, the favours
of supernatural beings, the temporary triumph of
the wicked, the unmerited sufferings of the good,
and the " all happy ever after " have free play, as
in all countries and all ages. Even this stratum
however in its main undulations, betrays the tastes
that are characteristic of the higher walks of
vernacular literature during the passing period.
Persecuted beauty is made to go through the fiery
ordeal by more or less far-fetched doubts cast
upon its virtue, when Sita happens to be the

popular ideal ; and manly strength is put to tests

227



228 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

that bring it into line with the fashionable heroes
of the hour. Waves of influence seem to pass
across the ocean of democratic poetry in each
succeeding period, moulding its surface with less
and less distinctness as the level of formal educa-
tion sinks, but assuredly determining its main
heights and descents.

What is the character of these influences?
What is their central source of stimulus ? What
is that brain to which the literatures of the various
provinces act as limbs and organs ? Is there any
mainspring from which all alike draw simultane-
ous inspiration ? And if so, what is it, and where
are we to look for it ?

Such a fountain of energy and direction does
certainly exist, guiding and colouring the whole
intellectual life of the Indian people from genera-
tion to generation. It is found in the ancient
Sanskrit learning of the Brahman caste. Here is
that floating university and national academy of
letters of which the various vernacular languages
form as it were so many separate colleges. Here
we can watch a single unresting course of evolu-
tion, and see it reflected at a certain interval of
time, with a certain variety and tremulousness of
outlines, in the poetry and letters of each of the
provincial peoples.

The great national epics, the Mahabharata and
Ramayana, are in Sanskrit, and stand to this day
as the type and standard of imaginative culture
amongst all save the English-educated classes.



THE OLD BRAHMANICAL LEARNING 229

The story is learned, and the personalities become
familiar through village-plays and grandmothers'
tales, and the constant reference of everyone
about one from childhood upwards. But quotation
can only be made from the Sanskrit, and, with
the beautiful precision of mediaeval learning, must
be accompanied by careful word-by-word transla-
tion into the vulgar tongue. This is the rule,
whatever the caste of the speaker, though naturally
enough we hear such references oftener from the
lips of a Brahman than from any other.

The translation of either of the epics into one
of the minor languages usually marks a literary
epoch. It is never a close or exact rendering.
The translator allows himself as much liberty as
Shakespeare in dealing with English history ; and
a very interesting comparative study of the ideals
of different provinces might be made on the basis
of the six or seven great names that could be
chosen from among the authors of these variants.
Tulsi Das, the writer of the Hindi Ramayana of the
fifteenth century, is one of the springs and fountains
of life to the people of the North-West Provinces ;
as indeed to all the Vaishnavas of Northern India.
He regarded himself as only a reciter or interpreter


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