Letters of Marque



Notes by Brigadier A. Mason, M.C., R.E. for the ORG, with minor additions and amendments by David Page.



[Oct 19 2013]

Chapter IV


The Temple of Mahadeo and the Manners of Such as see India. The Man by the Water-troughs and his Knowledge. The Voice of the City and what it said. Personalities and the Hospital. The House Beautiful of Jeypore and its Builders



First Publication

27th December, 1887, in the Pioneer and 28th December, 1887, in the Pioneer Mail.


Notes on the text


[Page 24, line 4] the brazen bull was hung with flowers Guy Liardet notes: this phrase reveals that this is actually a temple to Shiva Mahadeva - the Mahabharata enumerates 108 names of Shiva of which this is alphabetically the 46th and means ‘the Greatest God’ – we are more familiar with Shiva Nataraja ‘the lord of the dance’ whose dance shook the Cosmos, ringed by his aureole of flame, standing on the demon of ignorance and having the spirit of the Ganges in his dreadlocks.

The Nandi bull is the vehicle of Shiva and always sits on the axis of his temples looking towards the shrine; whisper to Shiva in his ear and your prayer will be forwarded to the proper authority.

‘Mahadeo’ also crops up in that tender little poem "Shiv and the Grasshopper", in which, unless I misread its full stops, seems to make Mahadeo the son of Shiva and Parbati (correctly Parvati) and erroneously describes Shiva not Vishnu as ‘the Preserver’ instead of ‘the Destroyer’. Actually, their two sons are Ganesh and Kartikkeya who is also known as Murugan in Tamil Nadu and Subramanya in the very far south. [G.L.]

[Page 24, line 7] Mahadeo the great god of the Hindu Trinity, another name for Shiva (the other two being Brahma and Vishnu). The appellation is also mentioned in “Toomai of the Elephants”, “The Tomb of his Ancestors”, “Gemini” and The Naulahka.

The phrase ‘the brazen bull was hung with flowers’ (p. 24 line4) reveals the truth - this is actually a temple to Shiva Mahadeva - the Mahabharata enumerates 108 names of Shiva of which this is alphabetically the 46th and means ‘the Greatest God’ – we are more familiar with Shiva Nataraja ‘the lord of the dance’ whose dance shook the Cosmos, ringed by his aureole of flame, standing on the demon of ignorance and having the spirit of the Ganges in his dreadlocks. The Nandi bull is the vehicle of Shiva and always sits on the axis of his temples looking towards the shrine; whisper to Shiva in his ear and your prayer will be forwarded to the proper authority. ‘Mahadeo’ also crops up in that tender little poem Shiv and the Grasshopper, in which, unless I misread its full stops, seems to make Mahadeo the son of Shiva and Parbati (correctly Parvati) and erroneously describes Shiva not Vishnu as ‘the Preserver’ instead of ‘the Destroyer’. Actually, their two sons are Ganesh and Kartikkeya who is also known as Murugan in Tamil Nadu and Subramanya in the very far south.

[Page 25, line 7] Maharaja Great King (i.e. Ruler).

[Page 25, line 9] Thakurs Lords and Landowners of Rajputana. One rank below the Maharaja.

[Page 25, line 22] the Station a location where two or more Anglo-Indians live and work. “A Wayside Comedy” gives an excellent example.

[Page 25, line 27] Newman’s Bradshaw this was a time-table issued for all the railways of India (and Pakistan) after the pattern of the British directory of the same name. The first edition was published in 1866.

[Page 25, line 27] ‘old-arm sellers’ sellers of old weapons.

[Page 26, line 8] jobber of gharris supplier of carriages.

[Page 26, line 13] brevet-rank the result of promotion in the field to a military rank above ones substantive rank.

[Page 26, line 13] Hazur meaning “Your Excellency”.

[Page 26, line 17] Zola Émile Zola (1840-1902) French novelist and critic, and founder of the “Naturalist” movement. His books covered such topics as alcoholism, sexual exploitation, and strikes by workers. They were banned in their earliest translations into English, and the prosecution of their publisher, Henry Vizetelly, was the cause célèbre of 1888.

Zola is referred to by Kipling in three of the stories collected in Abaft the Funnel – “A Really Good Time”, “The Three Young Men” and “The Last of the Stories”. He is also mentioned in connection with Penang in From Sea to Sea, and in “The City of Dreadful Night” (Life’s Handicap).

[Page 27, lines 26-27] ‘three-throw-plungers’ this refers to a reciprocating water pump, also known as a triplex single-acting pump. Mechanically, three plungers are attached to a single crankshaft with each bend in the crankshaft offset round the shaft by 120º. This type of pump is described as being suitable for producing uniform flow when conditions are constant.

[Page 27, line 30] standpipes vertical pipes with a tap which are plumbed into water-mains and from which water can be obtained.

[Page 28, line 9] thirty kos a kos is equivalent to about 2 miles, and thus the camel driver has travelled about 60 miles from his village to Jeypore.

[Page 28, line 17 to Page 29, line 9] the Maharajas who ruled Jeypore from Jey Singh onwards:
  • Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II 1700-1743
  • Maharaja Sawai Ishwari Singh 1743-1750
  • Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I 1751-1767
  • Maharaja Sawai Prithvi Singh 1768-1778
  • Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh 1778-1803
  • Maharaja Sawai Jagat Singh 1803-1819
  • Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh III 1819-1835
  • Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II 1835-1880
  • Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II 1880-1922
Kipling starts with ‘the late Maharaja’ or the Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II and ‘it was his royal will and pleasure that Jeypore should advance.’ He is compared with the founder of Jeypore, Jey Singh, or the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (prior to him the rulers had been resident in Amber). The third man to be mentioned, Madho Singh, is the Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II. (see also A History of Rajputana).

[Page 29, line 25] Yakub (Jacob) Sahib (1841-1917) in 1867 Major Samuel Swinton Jacob, a British military engineer, became the director of the Jeypore Public Works Department. He had clearly been promoted to Colonel by 1887. (see also Chapter II, page 11, line 6) and a listing for him as author at the Smithsonian Institution gives his full name as Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob.

[Page 30, line 15] malli a gardener. [ORG]

[Page 30, line 28] Mayo hospital Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo (1822-1872) was Governor-General of India from 1869 to 1872 until he was assassinated by a Muslim Afghan convict at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, where he was on a tour of inspection.

He encouraged the establishment of the Mayo College at Ajmer and the Rajkumar College in Kathiawar, adopted the narrow (meter) gauge of 3 feet 3 inches for the new state railways, and passed a land improvement act and an act to facilitate by government loans works of public utility in towns. [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]

There are several other public buildings in the sub-continent named after Lord Mayo, including the Mayo School of Art in Lahore where John Lockwood Kipling, Kipling's father, was employed.

[Page 31, line 19] soffit the under surface of an arch or lintel. [ORG]

[Page 31, line 31] chunam dadoes chunam is a polished lime plaster. Dadoes are decorative patterns cut into the plaster.

[Page 32, line 7] Razmnameh an illustrated Persian translation of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, which was originally commissioned by Akbar in 1582. The patron for whom the manuscript was prepared was Abd al-Rahm Khan-i Khanan, a minister and commander under Akbar. Many of the miniatures are signed by the artist Fazl.

Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. It is a collection in 18 volumes and a supplement of verses by many authors dating back to B.C. 300 describing the Great War of the Aryans in the Kurushetra; it forms 'an encyclopaedia of moral teaching'. [ORG]

[Page 32, line 8] Akbar “the Great” (1542-1605) . Akbar came to throne in 1556, after the death of his father, Humayun. At that time, Akbar was only 13 years old. Akbar was the only Mughal king to ascend to the throne without the customary war of succession; as his brother Muhammad Hakim was too feeble to offer any resistance.

Akbar was a great patron of architecture, art, and literature. His court was rich in culture as well as wealth, and was so splendid that the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth I, once even sent out her ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe, to meet Akbar.

Many of his buildings still survive, including the Red Fort at Agra, and the city of Fatehpur Sikri (right), near Agra, which has a 10-km long wall encircling it.


[A.M./D.P.]

©A Mason and David Page 2007 All rights reserved