Chapter XI

Notes on the text

(by Sharad Keskar)

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[Page 264, verse heading] This is the second verse of Kipling’s “The Juggler’s Song”, but with minor word changes not in the version printed in the Definitive Edition of his poems. The archaic word ‘bewrayed’ is linked to ‘betrayed’ in the sense that disclosure was not intentional but occurred inadvertently.

[Page 264, main text, line 9] into a mazement into a trance; a hypnotic state.

[Page 265, line 16] bairagi A saddhu, or ascetic disciple of Vishnu.

[Page 266, line 3] crutch this T-shaped crutch is not for someone who limps. It is less than 18 inches long and is carried for resting the elbow when a bairagi is sitting cross-legged.

[Page 266, [line 8] the One the universal spirit with whom Hindus want to achieve ‘oneness’.

[Page 266, line 23] Kamboh a farmer from Kambhoj, north of Cambay, Gujarat.

[Page 267, line15] Sakhi Sarwar Sultan The shrine and pass of the same name is west of the River Indus, and near to Dera Ghazi Khan.

[Page 268, line 10] Oswal of a Rajput caste of accountants. Ajmir was a city state not far from Jaipur, in Rajasthan.

[Page 268, line 29] Arhats “. . .Buddhist saints, but the Jains acknowledge them.” [Brigadier Alec Mason in the ORG]

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[Page 272, line 18] Leh The capital of Ladakh.

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[Page 278, line 21] Lingam the phallus, the symbol of Shiva, as god of fertility.

[Page 280, line 26] asafoetida a crystalline gum with a strong smell of garlic and sulphur, used extensively in Indian cuisine, particularly for the preparation of dhal.

[Page 281, line 30] a shaved head monks are known to shave their heads, but among the Hindu laity, a boy’s head is shaved at his naming ceremony; among adults a shaved head is a sign of mourning or of having made a vow.

[Page 282, line 1] doab doh means ‘two’; ab means ‘waters’ — hence ‘two rivers’.

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[Page 283, line 17] a Mahratta of a warrior race from Bombay and Central India.

[Page 285, line 33] Mhow town and prominent military cantonment in Central India.

[Page 286, line 7] old Chittor City historically famous Rajput fortress; Kipling has given a full and fascinating description of it in Letters of Marque.

[Page 286, line 10] the Queen’s stone the queen is Pudmini, because of whose beauty Chittor was besieged. To avoid rape and dishonour, she and the women of Chittor committed mass suicide by fire [suttee], in a rocky pit below her palace.

[Page 286, line 16] Jeypur now Jaipur, the well-known Rajput state once ruled by a Maharaja.

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[Page 287, line 11] Flesher’s Ward city ward of abattoirs and butcher’s shops.

[Page 289, line 6] turmeric the root of a plant, dried and pounded to produce a bright saffron-yellow powder used as a food flavouring and dye.

[Page 289, line 12] atta wheat flour, with some of the bran removed, for making chapattis.

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[Page 290, line 26] a caste mark usually worn by brahmins, drawn with sandalwood paste, by three fingers across the forehead.

[Page 291, line 19] tongs large iron tongs with a ring at the top, carried by saddhus, who give it an occasional musical twang to warn people of their approach.

[Page 292, line 21] Sir Banàs not recognisable as written. Kipling has misheard the name or not seen it written down. The nearest Hindi sound to “sir” is sur meaning ‘head’, or ‘all’ — if derived from surva. [the final “ah” sound in Hindi is never stressed.] Banàs would then mean “Maker”, from bananah, to make. So, it is either the “Head” Maker; or Maker of all things. In both instances this means ‘Lord Creator’, the god Brahma. But it could, depending on local loyalties, also refer to Lord Shiva, the ‘Lord of the Dance’, who is said to have set the world in motion by his dance of creation.

[Page 293, line 5] burning ghat A terrace and steps down to the river; a place for burning the dead.

[Page 293, [line 13] a murrain A highly infectious cattle disease.

[Page 294] lamp lighting time Being nearer the equator, days and nights are mostly of equal length, and darkness falls quickly; thus, lamp lighting time is after 6 p.m.