|CHAPTER 19 -- The route
from Gandikota to Golconda.
[] .... On the 22nd we travelled 7 leagues, and slept at Emelipata. About half-way we met more than 4,000 persons, men and women, and more than twenty *palanquins*, each of which contained an idol. They were ornamented with gold, brocade of gold and velvet, with fringes of gold and silver, and some of these palankeens were carried by four men, others by eight, and others by twelve, according to the size and weight of the idols. On each side of the palankeens was a man with a large round fan about 5 feet in diameter, made of beautiful ostrich and peacock feathers of different colours. The handles of these fans were 5 or 6 feet long, and covered with gold and silver nearly as thick as a French crown [écu]. Everyone strove to carry these fans in order to serve the idol by fanning it and preventing the flies from alighting on its face. Another fan, somewhat larger, and without a handle, was carried like a shield. It was ornamented with feathers of different colours, ranged round little gold and silver bells. The person carrying it walked close to the palankeen, on the sunny side, in order to shade the idol, for to close the curtains of the palankeen would have made it too hot. From time to time the bearer of the shield shook it in order to ring the bells, so that the idol might be amused.
All these people with their idols came from Burhanpur and its neighbourhood, and were going to visit their great Ram Ram, i.e. their great god, who is in a pagoda in the territory of the King of Carnatic. They had been fully thirty days on the road, and had to march fourteen or fifteen more before reaching the pagoda. One of my attendants who came from Burhanpur, and belonged to the tribe of these same people, asked me to give him a holiday to go with them to accompany his gods, saying that a long time ago he had vowed to make this pilgrimage. I was obliged to give him leave, well knowing that if I did not give him the holiday he would take it himself, as he had many relatives in the troop. About two months later he rejoined me at Surat, and as he had served M. du Jardin and myself faithfully, I made no difficulty about re-employing him.
When I asked him some questions about the *pilgrimage* which he had just made, he told me a story difficult to believe, but which happened, as he said, in this manner. Six days after having left me, all the pilgrims intended sleeping at a village; and before reaching it they had to cross a river, which during [] the summer contains but little water and may be forded anywhere. But when it rains in India the water falls like a deluge, and in less than an hour or two small streams rise 2 or 3 feet in depth. The rain having surprised these pilgrims, this river increased so quickly that it was impossible to cross it that day. It is not necessary that those who travel in India should provide themselves with food beforehand, --especially is this the case with the idolaters, who do not eat anything which has had life-- because even in the smallest villages rice, flour, butter, milk, beans, and other vegetables, sugar and other sweetmeats, dry and liquid, can be procured in abundance. This multitude of people, who had no food with them, were much astonished on reaching the bank of this river to see it so high and swollen, and at not being able to cross it to the village, which was on the other side, where they intended to make their halt.
They had nothing to give their children to eat, and nothing was to be heard save lamentations among the crowd. In this extremity their chief priest sat down in the middle of them, and, causing himself to be covered with a large sheet, began to call those who wished for food to approach him. He asked each what he wanted, whether rice or flour, and for how many persons; and lifting the corner of the sheet, with a large ladle which he held he gave to all whatever they had asked for; so that this large number of 4,000 souls was satisfied.
It was not only my servant who related this history, but having subsequently made many journeys to Burhanpur, where I was known to the principal persons of the town, I made inquiry of many who had been on this pilgrimage, and [] all swore to me by their Ram Ram that it was true, which I nevertheless could not believe....
[] .... It should be remarked that in all the countries we have just passed through, both in the Kingdom of Carnatic and the Kingdoms of Golconda and Bijapur, there are hardly any physicians except those in the service of the Kings and Princes. As for the common people, when the rains have fallen and it is the season for collecting plants, mothers of families may be seen going out in the mornings from the towns and villages to collect the simples which they know to be specifics for domestic diseases. It is true that in good towns there are generally one or two men who have some knowledge of medicine, who seat themselves each morning in the market-place or at a corner of the street and administer remedies, either potions or plasters, to those who come to ask for them. They first feel the pulse, and when giving the medicine, for which they take only the value of two farthings, they mumble some words between their teeth.
On the 2nd of October we were only 4 leagues' distance from Golconda. We halted at the house of a young Dutch surgeon [] of the King, named Pitre de Lan, whom M. Cheteur, the Batavian Envoy, had left at Golconda-- the King having asked for him very earnestly. This Prince suffered from a chronic pain in the head, and the physicians had ordered him to be bled under the tongue in four places; but he could not find anyone willing to undertake it-- because, as for surgery, the people of the country understand nothing about it.
Before de Lan entered the King's service he was asked whether he could *bleed* well, to which he replied that it was the least difficult operation in surgery. It was with great reluctance that the Batavian Envoy consented to leave him. But he did not like to disoblige the King, and de Lan received 800 pagodas as salary. Some days after the Envoy's departure the King summoned the surgeon and told him that he wished him to bleed him on the following day in four places under the tongue, as his physicians had directed, but that he should take care not to draw more than eight ounces. De Lan returned to the Court on the following day, was conducted inth a room by two or three eunuchs, and four old women came to conduct him to a bath, where they undressed and washed him well, especially his hands, and anointed him with drugs and aromatics; in place of his own clothes, which were of European make, they gave him a garment made according to the fashion of the country. They then took him to the King, and brought basins of gold which the physicians who were present weighed; these were to receive the blood. He then bled the King under the tongue in four places, and he did it so skilfully that, on weighing the blood with the basins, he found that he had drawn eight ounces exactly. The King was so satisfied with this operation that he gave him 300 pagodas, which are equal to nearly 700 écus.
The young Queen and the Queen-dowager, having heard of it, desired that he would bleed them also, [] but I believe it was more from the curiosity they had to see him than for any need they had to be bled, for he was a young and well-made man, and probably in their lives they had not seen a stranger at close quarters-- for from a distance this is not impossible, since from the place where they stay they are able to see without being themselves seen. De Lan was then brought into a chamber, where the same women who had taken him to the bath before he had bled the King uncovered his arms, washed them well, and especially his hands, and anointed him with scented oil, as they had done when he went to bleed the King. That being done, they drew a curtain, and the young Queen putting out an arm through a hole, the surgeon bled her, and he afterwards did the same for the Queen mother. The former gave him a fee of 50, and the latter of 30, pagodas, with some pieces of gold brocade....
[] .... The
following morning, very early, we went to hunt with de Lan, and returning,
at eight or nine o'clock a.m., we went to the river's bank to see how the
elephants of the King and the great nobles are bathed. The elephant enters
the water up to the belly, and lying down on one side takes water from
time to time in its trunk, throws it upon the uncovered portion of its
body and washes it well. The keeper then takes a kind of pumice-stone,
rubs the skin, and cleans it of all the dirt which has accumulated upon
it. Some believe that when this animal lies on the ground it cannot get
up by itself; this is quite contrary to what I have seen, for as soon as
the keeper has rubbed it well on one side he orders it to turn on the other,
which the elephant promptly does, and after it is well washed on both sides
it leaves the river and remains for some time on the bank to dry itself.
Then the keeper brings a pot full of red or yellow paint, and paints lines
on its forehead, around the eyes, on the chest, and on the back, afterwards
rubbing it with *coconut*
oil to strengthen the nerves, some keepers finally marking the forehead
with false tinsel....
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