Kim


Chapter I

Notes on
the text


by Sharad Keskar

The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Kim, first published in 1901 and frequently reprinted since).


[Mar 16 2004]

[Page 1, verse heading] The Narrow Way compare the Biblical: “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” [Mat.7,14] An appeal is made to a Christian tolerance towards “heathens” at prayer. cf Chapter XIV verse heading.

Tophet-flare Judgement Day. [See also Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.]

Kamakura seaside town in Japan that is sacred to Buddhist pilgrims.

[main text; page 1, line 2] Zam Zammah The cannon on which Kim sits astride; made in Lahore in 1757; the inscription on the muzzle reads “Wali Khan the Wazir made this gun, named Zam Zammah, the Captor of strongholds. The work of Shah Nazir.”

The cannon earned several nicknames including “the Lion’s Roar”; it was used in the third battle of Panipat in 1761 by Ahmad Shah of Afghanistan, when he defeated the Mahrattas, and then left in Lahore. When the Afghans retreated, the Sikhs used it against them, and renamed it Bhangian-wala Toph. [toph=gun). After suffering damage the cannon was left in the Sikh’s Holy City, Amritsar, till it finally fell into British hands after they defeated the Sikhs and annexed the Punjab.

[Page 1, line 3] Ajaib-Gher House of Wonder, more correctly ajaib meaning strange, ergo, a house of curiosities. During Kipling’s years in India, his father, John Lockwood Kipling was the Curator of the Lahore Museum.

[Page 1, line 10] Punjab north-central state, west of the Northwest Frontier Province and south-east of Kashmir. Five rivers run through it, hence Punjab, where pun from panch = five, and jab = water.

[Page 1, line 12] vernacular Hindustani, a mixture of Hindi and Urdu.

[Page 1, line 15] bazar or bazaar, a market.

[Page 2, line 3] O’Hara no link with Colour-Sergeant O’Hara in Soldiers Three.

[Page 2, line 4] Mavericks A fictional title. According to Brigadier Alec Mason, who annotated Kim for the ORG, there was no British/Irish regiment with that name.

[Page 2, line 15] ne varietur may not vary. (Latin)

[Page 3, line 29] Delhi Gate the north-west entrance in the walled city of Lahore.

[Page 3, line 31] Haroun al Raschid Caliph of Baghdad, born A.D.763, died 809; famed for wealth, learning, and living in luxury — immortalised in The Arabian Nights.

[Page 4, line 14] faquirs
or 'fakirs'; ascetics who demand to be fed and who often profess having insight into and knowledge of alternative medicine.

[Page 4, line 30] deodar Indian cedar, a tree sacred to Buddhists.

[Page 5, line 14] goat-skin bag called a mushak (Urdu), carried by the bhisti [water-carrier] behind his back.

[Page 5, line 25] ghi butter that has been heated to remove all traces of buttermilk.

[Page 6, line 2] Motee Bazar the Pearl Market.

[Page 6, line 3] castes exclusive social groupings linked to trades, calling, and status in Hindu society. Of the 4 main castes: the first and highest were brahmins (priests); next kshatriyas (warriors); third, vaisyas (grocers, drapers, those in trade); fourth, sudras (those who served the upper three in various capacities. Finally there were those who were without caste, the lowest of the low, the pariahs.

[Page 6, line 33] Urdu An Indian language, a variety of Hindustani; it includes a vocabulary which has borrowed heavily from Arabic and Persian; it is spoken by the Moslems of Indian Sub-continent. Hindustani is a variety of Western Hindi and includes a large vocabulary of Urdu words but like Hindi uses the Devanargri alphabet and script. Hindi — the official language of India — was derived from Sanskrit. Urdu, once the patois of the bazaars of Delhi, is written in the Persian script. As the jargon of the soldiery, Urdu has the same root as 'horde'. This is clear from one spelling of Urdu as Ordu or Oordoo, and the word itself is truncated from zabani-I-urdu, “language of the camp”. Roman Urdu uses the Latin alphabet. Urdu achieved a high courtly status in Delhi and Lucknow.

[Page 7, line 2] Lala (Hindu), Mian (Moslem) Titles of respect for persons of high communal status.

[Page 7, line 25] lama Tibetan monk; strictly one of the rank of Abbot.

guru teacher.

[Page 7, line 29] lamasseries Buddhist monasteries. The Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama of the Sakya country, is said to have been born in 563 BC. The Four Holy Places for Buddhists are: 1. The site of the Tree of Wisdom in Buddh-Gaya, in Bihar, India, under which Gautama Buddha was enlightened. 2. Kusinagar, near Gorakpur, where Buddha died. 3. The deer park in Sarnath near Banares where he preached, and, what meant most to Teshoo lama, Buddha’s birthplace, the Lumbini Gardens, in the village of Piprawa, on the border of India and Nepal. The eight Stupas [see below] which enshrine the Buddha’s ashes, are also sacred.

[Page 8, line 10] buts [pr. booth] ghostly images.

but-parast a worshipper of ghostly images.

[Page 8, line 27] Grecian touch the Hellenic influence came into India with Alexander the Great’s invasion in 326 B.C.

[Page 8, line 30] stupas large dome or bell shaped monuments which house the Buddha’s relics, hence hallowed ground. They are designed and constructed to represent the elements of earth, water and fire, which in turn represent the rites of passage. Some stupas are stupendous.

[Page 8, line 31] viharas monasteries or monks' cells.

[Page 9, line 3] Lord Buddha Prince Siddhartha Gautama, Indian mystic, founder of Buddhism, son of a Sakya chief of the Kshatriya (warrior) caste, married when he was 16 and led a life of pleasure and great luxury. He grew restless and in secret forays outside his palace encountered the predicted “four signs” — an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a monk — destined to change his life. After the birth of his son, he renounced his inheritance and left his father’s kingdom to lead the life of an ascetic.

[Page 9, line 7] old-time Buddhas the title of “Lord” is given only to the Prince Gautama; but he himself admitted that there were Buddhas before him, and that Bodhisats, more fully, Bodhisattvas, potential Buddhas, would follow him. However, the title, Sakya Muni, which means, wise man of the Sakyas, is his alone.

[Page 9, line 18] Maya the mother of Gautama. [Not to be confused with maya meaning illusion.]

[Page 9, line 19] Ananda Buddha’s half-brother and his devoted disciple.

[Page 9, line 20] The Most Excellent Law The teachings of the Buddha, who set in motion the Wheel of the Law [doctrine]. It ignores the Hindu caste distinctions and promulgates these four Noble Truths: Life is suffering because suffering is desire; desires are self-conscious; self can be eliminated and Nirvana attained by adherence to the Eightfold Path:
1.Right understanding
2. Right purpose
3. Right speech
4. Right conduct
5. Right livelihood
6. Right endeavour
7. Right awareness
8. Right meditation.
[Page 10, line 26] the Excellent One one of the many titles of Gautama Buddha.

[Page 11, line 3] unfamiliar Greek convention Buddhist culture met Greek art on the plains of India’s Northwest Frontier Province in the then Kingdom of Gandhara, but the Greek influence did not spread across the Himalayas into Tibet.

[Page 11, line 5] The Annunciation Mahamaya, Siddhartha Gautama Buddha’s mother, dreamed of a white elephant entering her womb. The birth was of her son was unusual; he emerged from her side in full possession of an adult human’s faculties.

[Page 11, line 9] Asita a sage who prophesied a great future for the child. Kipling links the occasion to Simeon, who in the New Testament narrative blesses the Christ Child.

[Page 11, line 13] Devadatta Buddha’s cousin and rival.

[Page 11, line 16] The fire-worshippers Aryan worshippers of Agni, god of fire. The Parsees fled Moslem persecution in Persia, eleven centuries later.

[Page 11, line 21] Bodhi tree this is the sacred pipal [peepul] tree, ficus religiosa. Unusually tall for a fig tree, it has large heart shaped leaves.

[Page 11, line 29] Fo-Hian [Fa-hsien]and Hwen-Thiang [Hsuan-tsang] Chinese scholars of the fifth and seventh centuries, who travelled in Northern India, and took back with them Buddhist scriptures. We know of Hwen-Thiang through the translations of the Frenchman Stanislas Julien, who lived about 1850.

[Page 11, line 33] Beal Samuel [1825-89], translator of books on China, Tibet and Buddhism.

[Page 12, line 10] Kapilavastu capital of the Sakya kingdom on the Nepalese border. Now in ruins.

Middle Kingdom located in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, south of the Himalayas and extending eastwards and including Bihar.

[Page 12, line 11] Mahabodi maha meaning great, bodi meaning wisdom. The title of Gaya in Bihar, India, the most sacred site of Buddhist pilgrimage. Here Buddha found “Enlightenment” after meditating for 49 days, seated under a pipal tree.

[Page 12, line 26] The Old Law Buddhism in its purest and most orthodox form. Theravada Buddhism as largely practised in Ceylon [Shri Lanka] is the closest to this orthodoxy.

[Page 13, line 1] Reformed Law Buddhism outside India and Ceylon was more lax and reflected the cultures of countries — like Tibet, China and Japan — which adopted and adapted it.

[Page 12, line 13] the Wheel of Things Kipling’s invented phrase encapsulates Buddhism. The daily grind of day to day living. Humanity is sentenced to live and work in this life and in lives to come. Buddhism offers humanity a Way to escape this cycle by spiritual wisdom and renunciation of earthly illusons and attachments. The Wheel, as a symbol of Time, is in fact a Jain concept, but, as an emblem of the Buddha, it is “the Wheel of the Doctrine”.

[Page 13, line 21] River of the Arrow Kipling’s explanation on the page is sufficient.

[Page 15, line 3] Benares [pronounced Be/nar/res] Today Varanasi, a city on the River Ganges, most sacred to Hindus, who call it Kashi, also to Buddhists because of its proximity to Sarnath.

Jains Disciples and followers of Mahavira, contemporary of Buddha and, like him, also of the Hindu Kshatriya caste. His teachings are similar to Buddhism and differ only in emphasis on Ahimsa [harmlessness]— a non-violence pledge not to kill or take life in any of its forms, whatever the circumstances. Mahavira was born in Benares and the signs and portents of his birth are similar to that of Gautama Buddha. But he, Mahavira, attained his enlightenment under an Asoka tree.

[Page 15, line 13] Pathankot railhead at the Himalayan foothills. A few miles above the town are Dharamsala and Mcleodganj, which today is the refuge of the Dalai Lama.

[Pages 16 and 17] Kulu lush valley on the southern borders of Kashmir.

[Page 17, line 11] Padma Samthora Brigadier Alec Mason in the ORG says Kipling meant Padma Sambhava, meaning 'lotus-born', which would have been a portrait of Buddha’s nativity, painted on silk.

[Page 19, line 4] yogi one who renounces the world, leads a life of prayer, meditation and practises yoga. His extreme opposite is the non-spiritual, ill-disciplined, yagi.

[Page 19, line 19] the holy bull
because of Nandi, the bull which accompanies the chief Hindu god Shiv or Shiva, the bull and cow are held sacred. Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, are gods of the Hindu trinity. Shiva, the destroyer and procreator, is also the god of the yogis.

[Page 19, line 25] plantain banana.

[Page 20, line 19] tamarind The bean-shaped fruit of the tamarind tree, sweet and sour to taste, is widely used in Indian cuisine. When ripe, its brown skin has an egg-shell feel.

[Page 20, line 32] pariah an outcast; a stray dog.

[Page 21, 12] native fashion drinking water through cupped hands.

[Page 21, line 15] Pardesi foreigner.

[Page 26, line 6] eight annas In Indian currency there were 16 annas to the rupee. The anna went out of use with the decimalisation of the rupee.

[Page 26, line 12] Bokhariot from Bokhara.

[Page 26, line 15] hookah Middle Eastern, large free-standing smoker’s pipe; hubble-bubble.

[Page 26, line 25] Baltis Muslims from Baltistan, 400 kilometres north-east of Lahore.

[Page 28, line 26] Hajji or hadji, the title given to Moslems who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca.

[Page 27, line 7] Mahraj as distinct from Maharaja, a pseudo-title of respect given by a supplicant to any man in authority; equivalent to the Cockney “guv‘ ”.

[Page 29, line 24] Mussalman bread the naan; flat leaven bread.

[Page 30, line 20] five confederate kings Mason suggests that they were the rulers of Merv, Tashkent, Samarkand, Chitral and Hunza; under Russian influence..

[Page 31, line 1] insalubrious city of Peshawur Peshawar on the Khyber Pass, capital of the North West Frontier Province, was a beehive of espionage. Hence 'insalubrious' infers intrigue.

[Page 33,line 18] pundit or pandit, a Brahmin priest or scholar, versed in Sanskrit, the Hindu religion and philosophy. Any expert on a particular topic or area of knowledge.

[Page 34, line 27] Kafilas caravans.

[Page 35, line 17] coper horse dealer.


[S.K.]