« السابقةمتابعة »
The draped Buddha, which I rescued from the bed of the Jamuná at Jaysiñhpura, is of early date and executed in a different style from most of those found in the neighbourhood. The arabesque pilaster next to it is a good specimen of the mediaval Hindu period. I found it in opening out the new paved way along the river bank in the city. The fragment of wall-decoration and the head are from the Kankáli tila, and the larger stone, covered with miniature temple façades of the same style as the caves at Karli and Ajanta, I brought from Mahában.
In the second tier (over an intermediate row of three Buddhist crossbars) the small bas-relief, that occupies the place in the centre, is very curious. It represents a rustic wooden throne, with drapery thrown over it and a footstool set in front, and two attendants standing at the back, each with a chauri to keep off the flies. The object of veneration is a relic-casket, which is exposed upon the chair. Next to the pillar with the figure of Mayá Devi under the sál tree is a stone that I brought from Shergarh in the Chhátá Pargana, where I found it imbedded in one of the towers of a Fort built according to tradition by the Emperor Sher Sháh. It is the only example that I have seen in India of the use of the trefoiled circle as a decoration. It is the special characteristic of the architecture of Kashmír, a style which I am inclined to believe once spread much farther south, and was of purely Indian origin; while the later styles were modified more or less by Greek influences. The festoon is the same, as in the two flanking pillars (from the Kankáli tila) which I ascribe to about the year 400 A. D. the flower-vase being here used only, without the grotesque mask which was of somewhat later introduction. On the other side of the enthroned relic is what appears to be the spandril of a doorway with an outer border of grapes and vine leaves, and in the jamb the model of a triumphal pillar with bell-capital and winged lions and an elephant standing above the abacus. The upper portion of such a pillar with an inscription on the abacus, dated in the reign of Huvishka sambat 39, is also in the museum, and is figured by General Cunningham in volume III of his archæological survey.
Of the two nude Jaina figures in the third tier, the one with the group of devotees below it, adoring the chakra, is of special interest on account of the inscription, which gives the date both in letters and figures as sambat 57. It would seem either that the century is omitted, or that some other era than than of Vikramaditya is intended for the figure has rather a modern appearance, and the letters, which are very scratchy and ill-formed, are quite unlike the bold characters in the other inscriptions, when the king's name is given as well as the date and which are therefore known to be of the Indo-Scythian period.
In the upper tier, the female figure with a child in its lap (from the Manoharpur quarter of the city) is of exceptional character and uncertain date. The square box, with a seated Buddha fully draped, on each of the four sides, is shewn by the flanking columns to be of great antiquity. I brought it from the Mahávidya tila, which is unquestionably one of the oldest religious sites in Mathurá and probably has many relics of the past buried under the modern temple. The architrave, with defaced figure sculpture at either end, I found in the progress of the repairs of the Chhatthi Pálná at Mahában, being part of the Hindu temple there which was destroyed by Aurangzíb. It is a good example of a simple but very effective style of decoration.
8. The Festival of the Holi, as kept in Braj.
In 1877 the Festival of the Holi fell unusually early in the year, while the weather was still cool enough to allow of a mid-day ride without serious inconvenience. I took advantage of the opportunity thus afforded me and made the round of the principal villages in the Chhátá and Kosi Parganas where the rejoicings of the Phúl Dol, for so these Hindu Saturnalia are popularly termed, are celebrated with any peculiar local observances, visiting each place on its special fête-day and jotting down what I saw in my note-book. Several of the usages are, I believe, entirely unknown beyond the limits of Braj, even to the people of the country, and-so far as I could ascertain by enquiries-they had never before been witnessed by any European. The following extracts from my diary may therefore be thought worthy of preservation.
Feb. 22nd, Barsána, the Rangila Holi.-In the middle of the town is a small open square, about which are grouped the stately mansions and temples built by the great families who resided here during the first half of the 18th century. I find a seat in the balcony over the gateway of the house still occupied by the impoverished descendants of the famous Katára, Rúp Rám, the founder of Barsána's short-lived magnificence, from which I have a full view of the humours of the crowd below. The cheeriness of the holiday-makers as they throng the narrow winding streets on their way to and from the central square, where they break up into groups of bright and ever varying combinations of colour; with the buffooneries of the village clowns and the grotesque dances of the lusty swains, who with castanets in hand, caricature in their movements the conventional graces of the Indian ballet-girl,
Crispum sub crotalo docta movere latus,
all make up a sufficiently amusing spectacle; but these are only interludes and accessories to the great event of the day. This is a sham fight between
the men from the neighbouring village of Nand-gánw and the Barsána ladies, the wives of the Gosáins of the temple of Lárlí Ji, which stands high on the crest of the rock that overlooks the arena. The women have their mantles drawn down over their faces and are armed with long heavy bambus, with which they deal their opponents many shrewd blows on the head and shoulders. The latter defend themselves as best they can with round leather shields and stags' horns. As they dodge in and out amongst the crowd and now and again have their flight cut off and are driven back upon the band of excited viragoes, many laughable incidents occur. Not unfrequently blood is drawn, but an accident of the kind is regarded rather as an omen of good fortune, and has never been known to give rise to any ill-feeling. Whenever the fury of their female assailants appears to be subsiding, it is again excited by the men shouting at them snatches of the following ribald rhymes. They are not worth translation, since they consist of nothing but the repetition of the abusive word sálá, applied to every person and thing in Barsána. That town being the reputed home of Rádhá, the bride, its people are styled her brothers; while the Nand-gánw men account themselves the brothers of Krishna the bridegroom.
श्रीभांडवधाई बरसांनेकी 1
सब सारे बरसानेबारे रावलबारे सारे ।
Feb. 23rd, Nand-gánw.-Another sham fight as on the preceding day, only with the characters reversed; the women on this occasion being the