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so that a Persian haji became a prince in Sindh, though in all probability a barber in Ispahan!
In the retinues of the Amirs were to be found military mercenaries from every quarter of the East: the younger Amir of the Khyrpúr branch of the family boasted between three or four hundred Affghans, picked men, and had also a regular risallah (regiment) of Hindostan cavalry, clothed and accoutred much after the fashion of our Indian irregular horse. In short, fortune-hunters and needy vagabonds, of whom there is always a large proportion in every native court throughout India, found ample encouragement in Sindh: the more worthless, and the more these vagabonds blustered and swaggered, the more certain were they to become prime favourites of the credulous chiefs. And innumerable are the instances where the most worthless, intriguing, and designing characters were admitted to the especial confidence of the Amirs swaying their most important interests and affairs.
The bulk of the Mahommedan population are Sunis, though the chiefs practised the Shiah doctrines; the Koran is the rule of faith, and oaths are sworn by placing it on the head of the party. The sacred book can only be touched by a Seyud or Múlah, and an assembly always rises at its approach; the lowest orders affect the distinction of hafiz, or learner of the Koran by heart, and there are many such, though few even of the learned men of the country can expound a line of the text. It is
considered a most acceptable work to attend in the tombs and hear the Múlah read a chapter, or to pay ziaruts (pilgrimages) to the sainted shrines throughout the country. The evening prayer at sunset is scrupulously observed; the boatman rests on his oar, the fisherman from his vocation, the artisan from his work, and the Bilúchi from his murdering foray, to go through this ceremony. Dismounting from his horse or camel, and spreading his carpet, the traveller prostrates himself before the retiring orb of day, and the general effect of this simultaneous adoration is very striking. In Sindh the forms of religion are carried to an excess by the Moslems, in proportion to the absence of any real feeling. We may, however, charitably conclude that there are in Sindh, as elsewhere, those who conscientiously act up to the faith they profess, but experience, sooth to say, adds to the conclusion that the instances are few and far between.
The Hindús in Sindh bear evident traces of emigration to that country from Múltan, Amritsir, and other parts to the north; locating themselves on the banks of the Indus, as in Central Asia, they have become here, as elsewhere, a highly valuable portion of the community, commanding by their commercial activity, habits of business, and energy, a certain respect despite the most unmeasured bigotry. They are still but a tolerated class, however, and nothing short of extreme cunning and perseverance could
enable them to exist in such a country as Sindh, where their wealth is the constant object of Mahommedan rapacity, and where they are only considered as dogs in the eyes of the true believers; they are divided into two great classes, Lohanas, and Bhatias. The whole of the trade of Sindh, from the extensive mercantile and banking transactions of Shikarpúr, to the smallest supplier of the ordinary wants of life, are in the hands of the Hindús. Their command of ready money gives them also a certain power over the rulers, who, looking only to the revenue of the country as a means of present gratification, are too happy to farm its resources to these Soucars (as the Hindú traders are called) for any sum which may be immediately commanded. In these transactions the Hindú always runs the greatest risk of being called upon to disgorge any profits he may amass, and he knows that his bonds and contracts with Mahommedan chiefs are so much waste paper; but he makes his calculations accordingly, and, despite power and despotism, never fails to accumulate wealth at the expence of the profligacy of the rulers.
Hindús, from their intelligence and habits of business, are also employed by the government throughout Sindh as revenue servants of every description, but all such are obliged to wear the beard and turban, adopting in their exterior so completely the Mahommedan garb and demeanour,
that they are no longer recognizable. In Sindh and the countries north-west of the Indus generally, the Hindú is not particular as to caste or religion, and his constant neglect of both would indeed horrify the stricter brother of the same faith in India, but in such situations it is in vain to attempt to preserve purity, and the trial would only induce additional persecution. The few Brahmins or Gúrús in this country are of the Sarsat caste, and occasionally a temple to Mahadiú is to be seen; but only at Shikarpúr are the Hindús allowed to celebrate their festivals or religious rites: during the Mohurrum and other Mahommedan fasts or feasts, they are obliged to shut up their shops all over the country. The ass is used by the Hindús in Sindh for carriage and travelling; in India the animal cannot be touched without defilement. It is curious to observe that in the neighbouring country of the Punjaub, the Mussulman is as much degraded, and treated with the same intolerance by a Hindú heresy, as the Hindú is by the Moslem in Sindh.
Hindús are dispersed over the whole of Sindh: in the wildest fastnesses of the Bilúchi mountains, in the deserts and smallest collection of huts in the jungles of the plains, a Hindú and his shop of tobacco, spices, groceries, or cloths, is sure to be found; but their principal localities are in Northern Sindh at Shikarpúr, and in Southern at the port of Karrachi. The former has at all times held a prominent influence over the trade of the countries
from the sea to the Caspian. The Hindú merchants. or bankers have agents in the most remote parts of Central Asia, and could negociate bills upon Candahar, Kilat, Cabul, Khiva, Hírat, Bokhara, or any other of the marts in that direction. These agents, in the pursuit of their calling, leave Sindh for many years, quitting their families to locate themselves amongst the most savage and intolerant tribes, yet so essentially necessary are they to the wild Túrkoman, rude Affghan, or blood-thirsty Bilúchi, that they are, with trifling exceptions, generally protected. The smallest bargain even is never struck between two natives of these countries, without the intervention of the Hindú Dillal or broker; covering his hand with a large cloth, he runs backwards and forwards between the parties, grasping alternately the hand of each. The cloth is used to cover certain signs which are conveyed as to the amount offered by squeezing the joints of the fingers, which stand for units, tens, or hundreds, as the case may be: thus the bystanders are kept in the dark as to the price at which an article is sold, and irritation avoided at offering before others a lower sum than is expected would be taken.
At Karrachi, the principal port of Sindh, and therefore of the Indus and countries beyond it, the Hindús are very numerous and influential : here and at Shikarpúr they enjoy greater protection than in any other part of the Sindhian do