The Financesof the Gods

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Life’s Handicap, as published and frequently reprinted between 1891 and 1950.


[Page 325, line 1] Dhunni Bhagat’s Chubára see page vii of the Preface to this volume:

In Northern India stood a monastery called The Chubára of Dhunni Bhagat. No one remembered who or what Dhunni Bhagat had been. He had lived his life, made a little money, and spent it all, as every good Hindu should do, on a work of piety – the Chubára …The wandering mendicants, charm-sellers, and holy vagabonds for a hundred miles round used to make the Chubára their place of call and rest. Mahomedan, Sikh, and Hindu mixed equally under the trees. They were old men, and when man has come to the turnstiles of Night, all creeds in the world seem to him wonderfully alike and colourless…

[Page 325, lines 3 – 8] little naked child… a similar incident occurs in Kim, p. 78.

[Page 325, line 20] cow-dung cakes Oopla – used for fuel instead of enriching the land. This picture (right) comes from Beast and Man in India by Kipling’s father, Lockwood.

[Page 326, line 1] quilt of many colours an echo of Genesis, 37, 3: Now Israel loved Joseph … and he made him a coat of many colours.

[Page 326, line 11] Evil Eye some peoples cannot abide having their children admired or congratulated as it brings down the jealousy of the higher powers. See “The Return of Imray” and “Without Benefit of Clergy” earlier in this volume.

[Page 326, line 14] slate in this context a piece of slate, usually in a wooden frame, used by schoolchildren for writing etc, as it could be cleaned and reused when paper was scarce and expensive. (Slates were still used in schools in England in Kipling’s day.)

[Page 326, line 32] Perlay-ball etc. ‘Play the ball’. These are words used in cricket, in a rather mangled form; Ow-at ‘How’s that?’, Ran, ran, ran! ‘run, run run !’. Cricket is the national game of India, and is played with passion by small boys in the Punjab to this day.

[Page 327, line 16] Aré a word of encouragement.

[Page 327, line 17] our tears make a great pond an echo of an episode in Chapter 2, “The Pool of Tears”, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson 1832-1898), one of the great classics of children’s literature in English.

[Page 327, line 26] Shiv or Shiva – the supreme Hindu god, third of the triad that includes Brahma and Vishnu.
Parbati – also known as Kali and Dinga. See also “The Bridge-Builders” in The Day’s Work, and India, a Travel Survival Kit (Lonely Planet Publications, 3rd Ed., 1987) p. 31.

[Page 327, line 30] Trimbak the source of the Godavari River, with bathing ghats (stairways into the river) where sins are washed away. (op. cit. Lonely Planet p. 558.)

[Page 327, line 31] Hurdwar Hardwar, inMaharashtra, an important place of pilgrimage at the foot of the Swalik Hills on the holy River Ganges. (Op. cit. Lonely Planet p. 286)

[Page 327, line 33] jujube trees Zikzyphus – trees with edible berry-like fruits.

[Page 328, line 27] Ganesh Gana-Pati – ‘Lord of Hosts’, usually represented as a stout man with four arms and the head of an elephant. (See the Note to page 327, line 26 above).

See also Beast and Man in India by Lockwood Kipling, Chapter 9, for more on Ganesh and the outline of this story, and Eric Scagliano, Seeing the Elephant, (Bloomsbury Publishing, Plc, 2006 [paperback], first published in Great Britain as Love, War and Circuses, 2004.) Chapter 7.

[Page 328, line 32] one lakh of rupees Sanskrit laksha – one hundred thousand.

[Page 330, line 14] walking in the temple in the darkness… an echo of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3, 8.

[Page 330, line 29] Nathu Messua called Mowgli ‘Nathoo’ after her long-lost son in “Tiger, Tiger” (The Jungle Book). ORG translates this as a pet name meaning ‘worthless’, to avoid any form of compliment which would anger the gods, as noted above at page 326, line 11.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved