The Smith Administration X

Hunting a Miracle


(notes by David Page)

First Publication

10th October 1887 in the Civil and Military Gazette.

The story

In which are described the tribulations of a reporter who has been sent to Amritsar to obtain an interview with a Sadhu who has cut out his tongue and which has miraculously re-grown. His search is frustrated by the local population.


Kipling must have visited Amritsar on several occasions whilst he was working in Lahore for the Civil and Military Gazette. He writes in a letter of 1 June 1883 to his former headmaster Cormel Price: ‘I am off to Amritzar next Sunday to call upon N.E. Young and arrange further details about the O.U.S.C. Dinner.’ The O.U.S.C. was an organisation of the Old Boys of the United Services College which Kipling had attended.

Notes on the Text

[Page 381, line 25] Amritsar One of the great cities of northern India, about 35 miles east of Lahore – the city of the Sikhs with the Golden Temple.

[Page 382, line 5] Parsee The Parsees are descendants of refugees who settled in India after the Arab invasion of Persia in the 7th-8th centuries. Followers of the sage Zoroaster, they worship God in the forms of light and fire. The founder of the Bombay School of Art, where Kipling’s father was employed at the time of his birth, was a Parsee called Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy.

[Page 382, line 12] Arya-Samaj a Hindu Reform movement founded in 1875.

[Page 382, line 12] Sadhu a Hindu ascetic or monk.

[Page 382, line 12] ticca-gharri a hired four-wheel carriage.

[Page 382, lines 20 & 21] ‘Sadhu?’ ‘Jehan,’ . . . ‘fush-class, Durbar Sahib!’ This Editor understands the exchange to mean that there is a ‘first-class Sadhu named Jehan who is to be found at the Golden Temple’ (also see below).

[Page 382, line 21] Durbar Sahib is the proper name of the building usually referred to as “The Golden Temple”. In a diary letter to his cousin Margaret Burne-Jones of 28 November 1985 – 11 January 1886, Kipling refers to ‘the “Durbar Sahib” – the big temple at Amritsar which is the centre of the Sikh religion’. (Letters Vol 1, Ed. Pinney p.101).
Hobson-Jobson quotes from the Imperial Gazetteer, i, 186 for 1881: ‘Near the centre (of Amritsar) lies the sacred tank, from whose midst rises the Darbar Sahib, or great temple of the Sikh faith.’

[Page 382, line 23] Bahut accha means very good, all right, etc.

[Page 382, line 25] Fort Govindghar or Gobindgarh Fort. It is a about one mile WNW of the Golden Temple. Kipling also refers to this fort in “The Arrest of Lieutenant Golightly”, p.141. The fort is also about a mile from the railway station.

[Page 382, line 33] Chajju Bhagat’s Chubara Also referred to in Chapter XIII of From Sea to Sea, Volume I, page 342; in the Heading to “Tod’s Amendment”; and also possibly in the Preface to “Life’s Handicap” under the name “The Chubara of Dhunni Bhagat”.

Here we are told about the one situated near the Lahore Veterinary School which is less than a mile south of the wall of the City of Lahore. A chubara is a sort of summerhouse in a garden.

[Page 383, line 9] pipals Ficus religiosa, the great sacred fig-trees of India (right).

[Page 383, line 27] Jandiala a town about 10 miles east of Amritsar.

[Page 384, line 5] fakir ascetic or holy man.

[Page 384, line 6] Jakko the monkey hill east of Simla, Its proper name is Jacatala but this has been abbreviated to Jakko. (See “The Hill of Illusion” by “S.T.”, a “lost” story by Kipling, KJ 324, page 44).

[Page 384, line 12] ghi anhydrous or clarified butter fat.


[Page 384, line 21] ekka a small, unsprung, one-horse carriage (right)

[Page 384, line 29] Belial or Satan, the spirit of evil – see Deuteronomy 13,13.

[Page 385, line 24] Grunth or Granth. The sacred book of the Sikhs.

[Page 385, line 26] Nihang a member of the Order of armed Sikhs, sometimes known as Akalis. See Kim, where in Chapter 4 (page 86 line 31), Kim is relishing the wonderful panorama of travellers along the Grand Trunk Road:

Then an Akali, a wild-eyed, wild-haired Sikh devotee in the blue-checked clothes of his faith, with polished-steel quoits glistening on the cone of his tall blue turban, stalked past, returning from a visit to one of the independent Sikh States, where he had been singing the ancient glories of the Khalsa to College-trained princelings in top-boots and white-cord breeches. Kim was careful not to irritate that man; for the Akali’s temper is short and his arm quick.

[Page 385, line 31] Poliswala Policeman.

©David Page 2008 All rights reserved