National Geographic : 1926 Jul
STREETS AND PALACES OF COLORFUL INDIA advancing tide of industrialism. But Ahmadabad's beauty has not been de stroyed; it is still one of India's finest ex amples of a combination of Mohammedan strength and Jain delicacy in architecture (see Color Plate XI). The Jains, of whom there are many in Ahmadabad, are an interesting people. One of their principal religious tenets is kindness to animals and a very high re gard for all kinds of life. Legend has it that the last of the Jain kings lost his kingdom by refusing to march his army on a rainy night because of the enormous number of insects that would surely perish under the feet of his soldiers. Jain architecture is distinctive for its lightness and grace, and no other people have ever come so near to making lace out of marble. In many parts of India temples of exquisite design and even more exquisite workmanship stand as memori als to the wealth, artistic skill, and reli gious devotion of this sect. MARBLE PAVILIONS FOR A PINING BRIDE The picturesque old city of Udaipur is distinguished in having as the head of its ruling house the bluest blue-blood in In dia. This prince claims direct descent from the Sun God (see Color Plate VI). The royal palace at Udaipur is an im posing mass of marble and granite occu pying a magnificent site on the shores of a beautiful lake. On the clear waters of this lake there seems to float an island decked with marble pavilions half hid in greenery-a dream of pearl and emerald in the midst of a great sapphire. An an cient king of Udaipur is credited with having built up this island and its pavil ions for his bride, that she might worship there as she had in her father's house. In the court of the Maharana's palace are several arches, under which it was once the wont of the haughty rulers of Udaipur to have themselves weighed, using bags of gold and silver as a balance and then distributing the coins as largess among their subjects. The Rose City of Jaipur (see Color Plates III, IX, XVII, XIX, and XXI) is comparatively new, as time is reckoned in India, having been founded less than two centuries ago. It is a well-planned, well-governed city, but the crenellated masonry walls which surround it are rem- iniscent of times when the native states were engaged in almost constant warfare. In all of these cities the gods of Hindu ism occupy a prominent place. These deities are so numerous that they defy classification, but the great triumvirate are Brahma, the Disposer; Vishnu, the Preserver, and Siva, the Destroyer. To these might be added a fourth, Ganesha, whose image is to be found everywhere-in temples, in homes, and even by the roadside. He is regarded as the deity of common sense, and it is to him that supplication must be made be fore undertaking anything of a serious or important nature (see Color Plate XIV). This god is supposed to be a son of Siva and Durga and is represented as a hideous creature, with an elephant's head and an enormous infant's body. The fol lowing explanation is given for the mon strosity: When Ganesha's mother first saw him her gaze was so brilliant that it burnt off his head. Siva was quite disturbed at the idea of having a son without a head, and in an effort to remedy the difficulty sent out servants with orders to bring him the head of the first living creature they en countered sleeping with its face toward the north. This happened to be an ele phant, whose head was duly cut off, brought to Siva, and fastened by him to his son's neck. The elephant's head is also symbolic of the wisdom attributed to this strange divinity. While a considerable feeling of jealousy and even hostility sometimes develops be tween the followers of Vishnu and those of Siva, in general the Hindus are liberal minded and it is not unusual for a man to belong to several religious cults, and he may change about at will. This freedom to change from one god to another does not extend to the lines of caste, however, and the Brahmans guard their high position jealously, clinging with extreme tenacity to long-established cus toms. Caste-ridden, infested with strange dei ties, burdened with poverty, India never theless allures with its mystery and its occasional scenes of surpassing beauty; and always there is color, intensifying the high lights, brightening the shadows, and weaving its spell over all the drab and sordid elements of life.