« PreviousContinue »
yet sufficiently tenable to resist the common attacks of a native power, stands on the exterior limits of the Bahar province. The present commandant has added to the strength of the fort by some late improvements; and for a more extensive protection of the inhabitants of the adjacent town, he has encompassed a wide space to the eastward of the fortifications, with a rampart and ditch. The curiosities to be seen at Buxar are few, and, excepting one, not worthy of enumeration. But this one, the Hindoos hold in a degree of estimation not inferior to that of the Neapolitans for the blood of Saint Januarius, or those of their faith in general for the holy house at Loretto. The monument in question, which is erected on a small mount to the westward of the fort, is sacred to the memory of the Gold Ram, who is seen occasionally officiating as the Mars of the Hindoos ; and is said to have the direction of war and victory. It would appear, that Ram, whilst a youth, made a visit to this eminence, and tarried on it for the space of seven days, where he was taught from some learned master of the science, the art of managing the bow, and wonderful were his feats with this weapon in after-times: indeed, were the most
moderate of them to be recorded, it would be VOL. I. D
readily admitted without torturing the phrase, that Ram “drew a long bow.” At the distance of two miles to the westward of Buxar, the Torin Nullah, a rivulet which falls into the Ganges, terminates the province , of Bahar, and divides it from Benares. Though the Caramnassa river, from being of greater note than the Nullah, and running contiguous to it, is generally denominated the boundary. In crossing this river on service, the officers on the Bengal establishment become entitled to a double portion of their usual pay, for the better enabling them to defray the extraordinary expences incurred in countries far distant from the sea-coasts, and where European articles, from the charges of conveyance, sell at an advanced price. THE view from Buxar into the Benares province, presents a scene of infinite gratification to the sense. You see an extended plain skirted by a broad winding river, and chequered with exuberant fields of corn, groves of lofty spreading trees, and large villages; the whole combines in it some of the grandest objects in nature, and impresses the mind with cheerfulness and content. LEFT Buxar on the 23d, and arrived on the
In the relation of this sailing excursion through the provinces, you will doubtless see many inaccuracies. You will likewise see that I have too narrowly circumscribed the description of a country, which with a fertility that conveys the idea of plenty, and national security, holds out to the eye; a grand and various scope of the most beautiful imagery.
I am, Dear Sir,
Yours, &c. &c.
Benares, 30th September, 1782.
My Dear Sir,
Having given vou a cursory detail of my journey from Calcutta to Benares, with the remarks that occurred; I will now lay before you the result of my enquiries and observations at this place. Should errors arise in the investigation of a subject, hitherto slightly discussed, and, from its extensive variety, perplexed and abstruse, I must sntreat an indulgent eye; and though mistaken in my opinions, I presume to hope for some commendation, were it only for endeavouring to administer a rational pleasure.
The city of Benares, for its wealth, costly buildings, and the number of its inhabitants, is classed in the first of those now remaining in the possession of the Hindoos. To describe with a due degree of precision the various temples dedicated at Benares, to the almost innumerable
deities, and to explain the origin of their foundation with the necessary arrangement, would require a knowledge far superior to mine in the mysterious subject of Hindoo Mythology. It is at this day enveloped in such deep obscurity, that even those pundits the most skilfully versed in the Sanscrit," are not able to render it moderately comprehensible to the generality of people. But as some relation of a city so famous in Hindoostan, and now so well known in Europe for supplying one of the grand sources of the religious worship of the Hindoos, and being the chief repository of the science yet existing among them, may not be unacceptable to you, together with a cursory investigation of the Mythology of Brimha; the task shall be attempted with attention to the object, and, I trust, with a strict adherence to truth. At the distance of eight miles from the city of Benares, as it is approached on the river, from the eastward, the eye is attracted by the view of two lofty minarets, which were erected by Aurungzebe, on the foundation of an ancient Hindoo temple, dedicated to the Mhah Deve. The construction on this sacred ruin of so towering a Mahometan pile, which, from its elevated
* The language in which the sacred legends of the Hindoos have been preserved.