Thursday, 20 September 2018

The Ancient Abbey Of Ajanta - 7

Outside the fort the city has been walled, and the river, circling within the walls, and the river, circling within the walls, has acted at the gateway of the city as a moat, over which even now stand the ruins of a grand old bridge of three arches. At the end of the road that once crossed this bridge, at what must have been the outer gate of the city, there a buttress-foundation, now treated as a sacred mound, where both Hindu and Mohammedans come to the worship the Mother. The trees that grow on it are the Neem and the Bo, the old Bodhitree, or Ashvettha. At their feet a few stones are red with vermilion, and broken glass bracelets tell of accepted vows.
 
So much for the mingling of historic and pre-historic! All through this countryside we find ourselves we find ourselves close to the remoter origins of Hinduism. It is a land of the worship of Miri-Amma, the Earth-Mother, in her symbols of the Neem and the pointed stone. There are temples of Hanuman, too, here and there. But thought I found a Brahmin chanting the worship of Styanarayana, in his own house, on the full-moon night, I saw no shrines to Shiva or Vishnu. This Bo-tree, on the Ajanta road, ma have sheltered a friars' Dharmashala in Buddhistic ages. Here, at this gate, Hiouen Tsang and his train, in the middle of the seventh century, may have stopped to pay toll, or to rest, on their way to or from the abbey, four miles distant. And the Bo-tree, growing here beside the Neem, may seem to the spirit of the place, with the memories it recalls of the peopled cloisters of twelve hundred years ago, a memento of what is a comparatively recent incident in the long long story of the land!


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