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deliberation, let us look, for example, at the Holi
festival. In the observance of this day three
different factors are distinctly traceable. First,
there is a strain of prehistoric Eros-worship, as
seen in the villages, in the use of abusive language
to women and in the fact that these in their turn
are privileged on that day to beat the lords of
creation. The conceptions which belong to this
phase of the celebration of the full moon of
Phalgun must be extremely ancient, and conse-
quently we must look for their analogues and cor-
respondences amongst widely separated branches



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 13

of the Aryan family, amongst Greek festivals of
Love and Spring, for example, in Roman Saturnalia,
Mediterranean Carnivals, and even so lately as
in the old-fashioned Valentine's Day of English
childhood.

That the birth of Chaitanya took place on this
very day of Holi Puja, thus determining another
of its associations, may seem to some of us an
accident. But it was no accident that attempted
to interpret the festival in terms of Krishna-worship.
Some phase of Hinduism to which, in the elabor-
ateness of its civilisation, the thought of frank
Eros-worship was as revolting and incomprehen-
sible as now to ourselves some such phase took
into its consideration this festival, and decided to
reinterpret each of its games and frolics in the
light of the gambols of Krishna with the cowherds
in the forest of Brindaban. The red powder of
the spring-time thus became the blood of the
demon Metrasur slain by the Lord. It was natural
that the young peasants, under the excitement of
danger just escaped, should " blood " one another,
and should yearly thereafter burn the effigy of
Metrasur in celebration of their deliverance. We
can almost hear the voices of those who made the
ingenious suggestion !

In the Holi-puja, then, as an instance, we can
trace the efforts of some deliberately Hinduising
power. This power, it is safe to suppose, is the
same that has determined the sacred year as a
whole. As a power it must have been ecclesiastical



14 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

in character, yet must have lived under the aegis
of a powerful throne. What throne was this ?
A very simple test is sufficient to answer. Those
comparatively modern institutions which are more
or less universal to the whole of India, must have
derived their original sanction from Pataliputra.
Things which are deeply established, and yet
peculiar to Bengal, must have emanated from
Gour. One of the most important points, therefore,
is to determine the geographical distribution of a
given observance. In this fact lies the secret of
its age.

Historical events as such have never been
directly commemorated in India. Yet perhaps,
had Guru Govind Singh in the Punjab or Ramdas
of Maharashtra lived in the time of the empire
of Gour, he would have obtained memorials at the
hands of Bengali Hinduism. The fact that none
of their age has done so shows that the calendar
was complete before their time. Even Chaitanya,
born in Bengal itself and a true product of the
genius of the people, is scarcely secure in the
universal synthesis. His veneration, like that of
Buddha, is overmuch confined to those who have
surrendered to it altogether. But if in the intel-
lectual sense we would fully understand Chaitanya
himself, it is necessary again to study the history
of India as a whole, and to realise in what ways
he resembled, and in what differed from, other
men of his age. What he shared with all India



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 15

was the great mediaeval impulse of Vaishnavism
which originated with Ramanuja and swept the
country from end to end. That in which his
Vaishnavism differed from that of the rest of India
represents the characteristic ideas of Bengal under
the strong individualising influence of Gour and
Vikrampur.

In all that lies around us then, we may, if our
eyes are open, read the story of the past. The
life we live to-day has been created for us by those
who went before us, even as the line of sea-weed
on the shore has been placed there by the waves
of the tides now over, in their ebb and flow. The
present is the wreckage of the past. India as she
stands is only to be explained by the history of
India. The future waits for us to create it out
of the materials left us by the past, aided by our
own understanding of this our inheritance.



II

If India itself be the book of Indian history, it
follows that travel is the true means of reading
that history. The truth of this statement, especially
while the published renderings of our history
remain so inadequate and so distorted, ought never
to be forgotten. Travel as a mode of study is of
infinite importance. Yet it is not everything. It
is quite possible to travel the world over and see
nothing, or only what is not true. We see, after
all, only what we are prepared to see. How to



1 6 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

develop the mind of the taught so that it shall
see, not what its teacher has led it to expect, but
the fact that actually passes before the eyes, is the
problem of all right scientific education. In history
also, we want to be able to see, not the thing that
would be pleasant, but the thing that is true. For
this we have to go through a strenuous preparation.
With a few of the counters of the game, as it
were, we take it for granted that one is already
familiar. The great names of Indian history-
Buddhism, Saivism, Vaishnavism, Islam mean
something to one. Gradually each student makes
for himself his own scale of signs by which to
compare the degrees of this or that quality that
interests him. He chooses his own episode, and
begins to see it in its proper setting. Behar, from
its geographical and ethnological position, cannot
fail to be one of the most complex and historically
interesting provinces in India. In studying Behar,
then, we early learn the truth of the dictum of the
late Purna Chandra Mukherji, and whenever we
find a tamarind, mentally substitute by way of ex-
periment a &?-tree ; or when we come across a
rounded hillock with the grave of a pir on the top,
convert it into a stupa, and make it a Buddhist
centre. 1 If we do this and cultivate the habit of

1 To the Mohammedan the tamarind tree is holy, and the fact that
on entering Behar he would plant it in the place of the bo, or take
the trouble to build a pir's tomb on a rounded hillock, goes far to
show that the sacred character of the tree and hill was still at that
moment maintained in Behar. That is to say, Buddhism was
remembered.



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 17

summing up our impressions, we shall be led to
many wonderful and unexpected conclusions about
the distribution of population at the Mohammedan
invasion, the strength and forms of Buddhism,
and so on.

But one of the master-facts in Indian history,
a fact borne in upon us more deeply with every
hour of study, is that India is and always has been
a synthesis. No amount of analysis racial, lingual,
or territorial will ever amount in the sum to the
study of India. Perhaps the axioms of Euclid are
not axioms after all. Perhaps all the parts of a
whole are not equal to the whole. At any rate,
apart from and above all the fragments which
must be added together to make India, we have
to recognise India herself, all - containing, all-
dominating, moulding and shaping the destinies
and the very nature of the elements out of which
she is composed. The Indian people may be
defective in the methods of mechanical organisation,
but they have been lacking, as a people, in none
of the essentials of organic synthesis. No Indian
province has lived unto itself, pursuing its own
development, following its own path, going its way
unchallenged and alone. On the contrary, the
same tides have swept the land from end to end.
A single impulse has bound province to province
at the same period, in architecture, in religion, in
ethical striving. The provincial life has been rich
and individual, yet over and above it all India

has known how to constitute herself a unity, con-

B



1 8 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

sciously possessed of common hopes and common
loves. Thus in the pursuit of epochs and parts
we must never forget the Motherland behind them
all. In remembering her and turning to her, again
and again we shall find the explanation that had
baffled us, discover the link that we required.

We must not be cowed too easily by proofs that
such and such a cherished idea had a foreign or
semi-foreign origin. In this world there is no
such thing as real originality. Some mind more
powerful than others breaks up common symbols
into their elements and recombines these in an
unexpected fashion. This is the whole of what we
call originality. The proof of a mind's vigour lies
in its ability to work upon the materials it meets
with. What is true of persons is true in this re-
spect of nations. Some achievements, because we
do not know their history, appear unique, solitary,
miraculous. In reality civilisations like religions
are a web ; they are not statues or saton-pictures,
great creations of individual genius. If we could
unveil the spectacle of the genesis of Greece, we
should find links between common and uncommon
in every department of her extraordinary output,
and much that now seems unaccountable for its
beauty or its boldness would then appear inevitable.
The fact that Egypt, Assyria, and the East itself
were all within hail, had more to do with the
peculiar form taken by the Greek genius than we
are now prepared to grant. If so, the actual glory
of Hellenic culture lay in the distinctiveness of its



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 19

touch, and the energy of its manipulation, of the
materials that came its way. Perhaps above even
these qualities was a certain faculty of discrimina-
tion and organisation in which it excelled. But in
any case the Greek race would not have produced
the Greek civilisation in any other geographical or
ethnological position than the one which they
happened to occupy. The utmost that can be said
in praise of any special people is that they have
known how to give a strong impress of their own
to those materials which the world of their time
brought to their door. If this be the high-water
mark then of national achievement, what is there to
be said for that of India ? Has she, or has she not,
a touch of her own that is unmistakable ? Surely
it was a knowledge of the answer that led us to
this question. Even in decorative matters the
thing that is Indian cannot be mistaken for the
product of any other nationality. Who can fail to
recognise the Indian, the Assyrian, the Egyptian,
or the Chinese touch in, for example, the con-
ventionalising of a lotus ? In form, in costume, in
character, and above all, in thought, the thing that
is Indian is unlike any un-Indian thing in the whole
world. For the mind that tends to be depressed
by the constant talk of Indian debts to foreign
sources, the best medicine is a few minutes' quiet
thought as to what India has done with it all.
Take refuge for a moment in the Indian world that
you see around you. Think of your history. Is it
claimed that some other people made Buddhism ?



20 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

Or that Shiva with his infinite renunciation was
a dream of Europe ? No : if India shared a certain
fund of culture elements with other peoples, that
is nothing to be unhappy about. The question is
not, where did they come from ? but what has she
made out of them ? Has India been equal to her
opportunities at every period ? Has she been
strong enough to take all that she knew to be in
the world at each given period, and assimilate it,
and nationalise it in manner and use ? No one in
his senses would deny this of India. Therefore
she has nothing of shame or mortification to fear
from any inquiry into culture origins.

This nightmare being disposed of, there is still
another. The Indian mind can hardly help making
questions of antiquity into partisan arguments.
Perhaps this is natural ; but in any case it is a great
barrier to the popularising of real historical inquiry.
The mind of the student ought to be absolutely
open on the point of dates. If there is the least
bias in favour of one direction or the other, it is
just like a weight on one side of a balance. Fair
measure does not come that way ! As a matter of
fact, the strictly historical period in India may be
comparatively short, something less than thirty
centuries, but there can be no difference of opinion
as to the vast length of the total period of evolu-
tion. The oldest problems of the world's history
have their field of study here. Those sociological
inquiries that lie behind all history must be pur-
sued in India. History proper only emerges when



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 21

a certain group of people becomes sufficiently con-
solidated to carry on common activities in a direc-
tion and with a motive that we may call political.
Man as the political animal is the subject of
history. This is a stage that will be arrived at
soonest by communities which are relatively small
and compact, and inhabit clearly defined geographi-
cal confines, on the frontiers of other populations
not greatly unlike themselves in civilisation. Thus
Egypt, Nineveh, and Babylon could not but arrive
sooner than India on the historical stage in virtue
of their very nearness to one another. But this
does not necessarily mean that they could compete
with her in actual age, or in the depth of the ten-
dencies making for their evolution. And in any
case, while these are dead, India lives and develops
still, responds still to all the living influences of
the world about her, and sees before her, as the
individual unit that her development has made her,
a long vista of growth and perfection to be achieved.
The art and architecture of Egypt date from four
thousand years before the Christian era. Crete
had a story almost as early. Who shall say what
was the age of Babylon ? But we must remember
that when all these were already mature, India was
still a-making. A long childhood, say the bio-
logists, is the greatest proof of evolutionary ad-
vancement. Egypt, with her exceptional climate,
made art and architecture the supreme expression
of her national existence. India put her powers,
perhaps as long ago, into the dreams and philo-



22 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

sophy of the Upanishads. Cities would have
crumbled into dust, temples and carvings would
have succumbed in a few aeons to the ravages of
time. Human thought, written on the least per-
manent and most ephemeral of all materials, is
nevertheless the most enduring of all the proofs of
our antiquity. Who shall say that we have not
chosen the better part ? Every generation destroys
the parchment of our record, and yet a million
generations only make its truth the more assured.
We can hardly dig so deep into the past as to come
upon the time when in Egypt, or Greece, or Crete,
or Babylon, the name of India had not already a
definite sound and association. At the very dawn
of history in Europe, her thought and scholarship
were already held in that respect which is akin to
awe. His old tutor in the fourth century before
Christ begs Alexander to bring him an Indian
scholar ! There is no need for discontent in the
Indian mind, if those activities of which the his-
toric muse can take account, activities intertribal,
international, political, began for her compara-
tively late. India, alone of all the nations of
antiquity, is still young, still growing, still keeping
a firm hold upon her past, still reverently striving
of it to weave her future. Are not these things
enough for any single people ?

At the same time, when these conditions are
loyally recognised and accepted, we cannot doubt
that the result will be a continual snatching of new
morsels out of the night of the prehistoric to be



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 23

brought within the lighted circle of history. This
will happen still more constantly if students try to
saturate themselves with the social habit of thought,
that is to say, if they will accustom themselves to
thinking of the human and psychological facts
behind events. Only this habit can teach them
when to postulate tribes and peoples for the in-
dividual names in ancient ballads, or when to read
a war of migration and conquest for a battle. Only
this can give them a sense of scale with which to
measure the drift and tendency of the forces
coming into play during certain epochs. To
multiply here and divide there is very necessary,
yet is only to be done rightly by one who is
accustomed to think sociologically.

The sociological habit is essential also if we
would be in a position to gauge the relations of
India to the incomers from beyond her border.
Few people know that in the beginnings of human
society woman was the head of the family, and not
man. Queens, who seem to us now something of
an anomaly, represent an institution older than
that of kings. In certain nations the memory of
this ancient time of mother-rule is still deeply
ingrained. Others, like the Aryans, have long ago
passed out of it. And some fragmentary com-
munities in the world remain still more or less on
the border line between the two. Only a deep
familiarity with the traces of these different phases
can give us a real clue to the history of Asia. Only
a grasp of that history will enable us to compute



24 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

distances of time truly. How old a given institu-
tion is it may be impossible to say in terms of
years, but we can tell at a glance whether it is
matriarchal or patriarchal, or by what combination
of two societies it may have arisen. The thought
of goddesses is older than that of gods, just as the
idea of queens is prior to that of kings.

The history of common things and their influence
on our customs is a study that follows naturally on
that of human society. Much of this we can make
out for ourselves. For instance, we can see that
the ass must be older than the horse as a beast of
burden. Once upon a time the world had no
steeds, no carrier, save this useful if humble servant
of man. Let us dream for a while of this. Let us
study the present distribution of the donkey, and
find out his name in various Aryan languages. All
that the horse now is, as a figure in poetry, the ass
must once have been. Noblest, fleetest, bravest
and nearest to man of all the four-footed kind, men
would set no limit to their admiration for him.
The Goddess Sitola rides upon a donkey, because,
in that dim past out of which she comes, there
were as yet no horses tamed by man. There was
once no steed so royal as the milk-white ass, which
is now relegated here to the use of dhobies, while
numerous are the allusions to its use, and the glory
thereof, in the older Jewish scriptures. The very
fact that it appears in the account of the Royal
Entrance, in the Christian story, points to the old
association of splendour clinging longer to the



THE HISTORY OF INDIA 25

name of the ass in Arab countries than elsewhere,
and in harmony with this is the fact that it is
widely distributed throughout Africa. After the
horse was once tamed, men would never have
taken the trouble necessary to reclaim the ass, and
from this alone we may judge of its great antiquity.
At the same time we may form an idea of the
time and effort spent on the gradual domestica-
tion of wild animals, when we read the reiterated
modern opinion that the zebra cannot be tamed.
Primitive man would not so easily have given up
the struggle. But then he would not either have
expected so quick and profitable a result. In the
story of the commonest things that lie about us
we may, aided by the social imagination, trace out
the tale of the far past.

Thus the mind comes to live in the historic
atmosphere. It becomes ready to learn for itself
from what it sees about it at home and on a
journey. The search for stern truth is the best
fruit of the best scientific training. But the truth
is not necessarily melancholy, and Indian students
will do most to help the growth of knowledge if
they begin with the robust conviction that in the
long tale of their Motherland there can be nothing
to cause them anything but pride and reverence.
What is truly interpreted cannot but redound to
the vindication and encouragement of India and
the Indian people.



THE CITIES OF BUDDHISM

ACCEPTING the theory that Buddhism was de-
veloped in India, not as a sect or church, but
only as a religious order, founded by one of the
greatest of the World-Teachers, we find ourselves
compelled to account for the relations that would
arise between the king or the populace impressed
by the memory of Buddha, and the order that
followed in his succession and bore his name.

To do this, however, it is first necessary that
we should have some determinate idea as to where,
in the India of the Buddhist period, were the
great centres of population. An Indian city, it
has been well said, is a perishable thing, and it
is easy to think of names which would justify the
statement. No one who has seen the Dhauli
Rock, for instance, seven miles away from Bhu-
baneshwar, can imagine that the edict it bears,
fronted by the royal cognisance of the elephant
head, was originally sculptured in the wild woods
where it now stands. A glance is enough to tell
us that the circular ditch which surrounds the
fields below was once the moat of a city, backed
and fortified by the Dhauli Hill itself, and that

the edict-bearing rock stood at the south-eastern

26



THE CITIES OF BUDDHISM 27

corner of this city, where the high-road from the
coast must have reached and entered the gates.
This city of Dhauli was the capital, doubtless, of
Kalinga, when Asoka in his military youth con-
quered the province. In order to estimate its
value and importance in the age to which it
belonged, we must first restore to the mind's eye
the ports of Tamralipti and Puri, deciding which
of these two was the Liverpool of the Asokan era.
A theocratic institution such as pilgrimage is
frequently a sort of precipitate from an old
political condition, and almost always embodies
elements of one sort or another which have grown
up in a preceding age. Presumably, therefore,
Puri was the great maritime centre of the pre-
Christian centuries in Northern India ; and if so,
a road must have passed from it, through Dhauli,
to Pataliputra in the north. By this road went
and came the foreign trade between India and
the East, and between the north and south. In
the age of the Kesari kings of Orissa, not only
had Dhauli itself given place to Bhubaneshwar,
but^Puri, perhaps by the same process, had been
superseded by Tamralipti, the present Tamluk.
It was at the second of these that Fa Hian in
the fifth century embarked on his return voyage.
Such a supersession of one port by another, how-
ever, would only be completed very gradually, and
for it to happen at all we should imagine that
there must have been a road from one to the
other along the coast. If only the covering sands



28 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

could now be excavated along that line, there is
no saying what discoveries might be made of
buried temples and transitional cities. For a whole
millennium in history would thus be brought to
light.

On the great road from Dhauli to the north,
again, there must have been some point at which
a route branched off for Benares, passing through
Gaya, and crossing the Punpun River, following
in great part the same line by which Shere Shah's
ddk went later and the railway goes to-day.

Let us suppose, however, that two thousand
and more years have rolled away, and that we are
back once more in that era in which Dhauli was
a fortified capital city. The elephant-heralded
decree stands outside the gates, proclaiming in
freshly-cut letters of the common tongue the name
of that wise and just Emperor who binds himself
and his people by a single body of law.

" I, King Piyadassi, in the twelfth year after
my anointing, have obtained true enlightenment,"
the august edict begins. It goes on to express the
royal distress at the imperialistic conquest of the
province, in Asoka's youth, and assures his people
of his desire to mitigate this fundamental injustice
of ,his rule by a readiness to give audience to any
one of them, high or low, at any hour of the day
or night. It further enumerates certain of the
departments of public works which have been
established by the new government, such as those
of wells, roads, trees, and medicine. And it notes


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