"You must remember," said Mme. Blavatsky, "that I never
meant this for a scientific work. My letters to the Russian
Messenger, under the general title: 'From the Caves and Jungles
of Hindostan,' were written in leisure moments, more for amusement
than with any serious design.
"Broadly speaking, the facts and incidents are true; but
I have freely availed myself of an author's privilege to group,
colour, and dramatize them, whenever this seemed necessary to the
full artistic effect; though, as I say, much of the book is exactly
true, l would rather claim kindly judgment for it, as a romance
of travel, than incur the critical risks that haunt an avowedly
To this caution of the author's, the translator must add
another; these letters, as Mme Blavatsky says, were written in
leisure moments, during 1879 and 1880, for the pages of the Russki
Vyestnik, then edited by M. Katkoff. Mme. Blavatsky's manuscript
was often incorrect; often obscure. The Russian compositors,
though they did their best to render faithfully the Indian names
and places, often produced, through their ignorance of Oriental
tongues, forms which are strange, and sometimes unrecognizable.
The proof-sheets were never corrected by the author, who was then
in India; and, in consequence, it has been impossible to restore
all the local and personal names to their proper form.
A similar difficulty has arisen with reference to quotations
and cited authorities, all of which have gone through a double
process of refraction: first into Russian, then into English.
The translator, also a Russian, and far from perfectly acquainted
with English, cannot claim to possess the erudition necessary to
verify and restore the many quotations to verbal accuracy; all
that is hoped is that, by a careful rendering, the correct sense
has been preserved.
The translator begs the indulgence of English readers for
all imperfections of style and language; in the words of the
Sanskrit proverb: "Who is to be blamed, if success be not reached
after due effort?"
The translator's best thanks are due to Mr. John C. Staples,
for valuable help in the early chapters.
- London, July, 1892
On the Way to Karli
In the Karli Caves
A City of the Dead
A Witch's Den
The Banns of Marriage
The Caves of Bagh
An Isle of Mystery
FROM THE CAVES AND JUNGLES OF HINDOSTAN
By Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Late in the evening of the sixteenth of February, 1879,
after a rough voyage which lasted thirty-two days, joyful exclamations
were heard everywhere on deck. "Have you seen the lighthouse?"
"There it is at last, the Bombay lighthouse."
Cards, books, music, everything was forgotten. Everyone
rushed on deck. The moon had not risen as yet, and, in spite of
the starry tropical sky, it was quite dark. The stars were so
bright that, at first, it seemed hardly possible to distinguish,
far away amongst them, a small fiery point lit by earthly hands.
The stars winked at us like so many huge eyes in the black sky,
on one side of which shone the Southern Cross. At last we
distinguished the lighthouse on the distant horizon. It was
nothing but a tiny fiery point diving in the phosphorescent waves.
The tired travellers greeted it warmly. The rejoicing was general.
What a glorious daybreak followed this dark night! The sea no
longer tossed our ship. Under the skilled guidance of the pilot,
who had just arrived, and whose bronze form was so sharply defined
against the pale sky, our steamer, breathing heavily with its
broken machinery, slipped over the quiet, transparent waters of
the Indian Ocean straight to the harbour. We were only four miles
from Bombay, and, to us, who had trembled with cold only a few
weeks ago in the Bay of Biscay, which has been so glorified by
many poets and so heartily cursed by all sailors, our surroundings
simply seemed a magical dream.
After the tropical nights of the Red Sea and the scorching hot
days that had tortured us since Aden, we, people of the distant
North, now experienced something strange and unwonted, as if the
very fresh soft air had cast its spell over us. There was not a
cloud in the sky, thickly strewn with dying stars. Even the moonlight,
which till then had covered the sky with its silvery garb, was
gradually vanishing; and the brighter grew the rosiness of dawn
over the small island that lay before us in the East, the paler
in the West grew the scattered rays of the moon that sprinkled with
bright flakes of light the dark wake our ship left behind her, as
if the glory of the West was bidding good-bye to us, while the
light of the East welcomed the newcomers from far-off lands.
Brighter and bluer grew the sky, swiftly absorbing the remaining
pale stars one after the other, and we felt something touching
in the sweet dignity with which the Queen of Night resigned her
rights to the powerful usurper. At last, descending lower and
lower, she disappeared completely.
And suddenly, almost without interval between darkness and light,
the red-hot globe, emerging on the opposite side from under the
cape, leant his golden chin on the lower rocks of the island and
seemed to stop for a while, as if examining us. Then, with one
powerful effort, the torch of day rose high over the sea and
gloriously proceeded on its path, including in one mighty fiery
embrace the blue waters of the bay, the shore and the islands with
their rocks and cocoanut forests. His golden rays fell upon a
crowd of Parsees, his rightful worshippers, who stood on shore
raising their arms towards the mighty "Eye of Ormuzd." The sight
was so impressive that everyone on deck became silent for a moment,
even a red-nosed old sailor, who was busy quite close to us over
the cable, stopped working, and, clearing his throat, nodded at the sun.