Jodhpur, 2 March 1893

Jodhpur’s reputation of being one of the best locations in all of India for pigsticking made me willingly agree to Sir Pratap Singh’s proposition to use the morning for pigsticking.  To get a goo catch meant to get up early. The wild boars use to come down from the hills in the night to forage in the plains and return already at dawn to their places in steep gorges of the mountain ranges to rest during the hot daytime hours. As a boar hunt on horseback is impossible in the hills of Jodhpur, one has to catch the moment when the wild game is leaving their foraging grounds but still is in the plains.

Thus we departed towards 4 o’clock in the morning. In gorgeous moonlight and cool agreeable morning air we drove first in carriages to the hills close to the fort and then continued on horseback on a flagstone road far into the plain where we awaited the dawn spread out in a picket line. Finally the eastern horizon added a reddish tint and the moonlight faded away and the shapes of surrounding objects became clearly visible.  While we were attentively watching at our post, Harji Singh escorted by a skillful rider had advanced a few hundred paces to explore. A short time later, Harji made a sign and the two riders galopped back in the direction of our location.

Soon the chase started with a rapid run. The landscape where the pigsticking took place is in our perception not truly suite for such a fast gallop. High grass which hides where the horses step alternates with thorny bushes and stone slabs. Now and then there are small gorges and deep holes in places where drifts of boars have burrowed. Used to this, our horses ran at full pace with astonishing skill evading obstacles which, however, saw some of the riders fall. Our poor General Protheroe fell so baldy that his whole body remained paralyzed for some time.

I rode an especially proficient Arabian stallion Sir Pratap Singh had chosen for me and had the pleasure to be the first to strike a boar with the lance which then was finished off by Harji. It was a strong piece with beautiful tusks. My stallion behaved very skillfully. As I had struck the boar for the first time, it turned on me and drove between the legs of my horse which the brave stallion countered by jumping over the boar.

After this promising start the chase picked up speed. As soon as the sun had risen the boars were returning to the hills. From all sides came whole drifts and also individual pieces. As we were only allowed to chase male boars we had to pick out those pieces we were allowed to hunt so that there was quite a number of aborted chases as it was only at close range that one could distinguish that one had hunted a female animal or a young animal.

We hunted at first in two parties which were led by Pratap Singh and Major Beatson, but soon some of the gentlemen separated themselves from their party and chased after a piece pursued by the other party; at times both parties united themselves for a common chase. The toughest and longest runs were made by the weaker pieces while the strong boars soon stood their ground and attacked anyone who came too close. The boars of Jodhpur were much meaner and aggressive than the ones we chased in Gwalior and went blindly after the horses so that many of those were wounded.

When Harji Singh told me during the hunt that he knew where a boar was hiding in a thorny bush, we rode to the spot. There Harji Singh jumped right into the thorns which have been piled up by the local peasants which made a strong boar with extremely beautiful tusks flee in the opposite direction of the rider. I caught the boar after a few jumps.

A particularly bad boy was the last boar that we chased. It led us into a thicket of thorns where it attacked everyone who came into its sight. Even the soldiers who stood nearby as attendants were not spared. We had agreed that Wurmbrand who had not yet bagged a boar should kill this one but unfortunately he arrived too late. A soldier who was harshly attacked by the animal, let it run into the spear whereas the force of impact made the spear splinter. Thus ended the chase. The boars had all reached the mountains. The sun stood high up in the sky and we returned home with our catch — 22 boars.

The result of that days pigsticking was extremely satisfying so that I count the pigsticking in Jodhpur as one of the most cheerful and exciting hunts I have experienced in my life. The sport’s attractiveness was intensified by the participation of the local hunters. Sir Pratap Singh was very pleased to see us so satisfied and could not stop talking about how well we performed in this task and asked me from his heart to accept the small Arabian stallion as a gift that I had ridden during all the four runs and with which I had killed four boars. All my arguments and objections — especially that the animal would have to travel a considerable distance to arrive in my home and that I would not want to deprive my friend Pratap Singh of such a proficient horse — remained without result. I had to accept the gift and made the resolution to send the friendly spender a present of a Lippizaner after my return home.

In the afternoon, sportive events were also on the program. First, however, it was the turn of the twelve-year-old son of the maharaja, Maharaj Kunwar Sardar Singh, to show us various fencing lessons, first fencing with a stick. The young gentleman showed himself to be very skilled and agile and struck at his teacher with glee who gave him from time to time a hit on the turban. Later this was switched to fencing with wooden swords and then with swords and shields. In the end we congratulated the young fencer which seemed to make him cheerful and proud.

The boy’s education is a felicitous combination of corporal and mental training. The former is provided by various forms of fencing, exercising and riding under attentive supervision and assures a healthy strong development of the child. The mental training is rationally organized and shows remarkable results as I could deduct from the astonishing questions and remarks of this boy about Austria. Even though I am aware that this method used to educate a young prince is not suitable for our situation at home nor for the average education of our children, still it automatically made me compare what I saw here.

The neglect of the training of the body and the excess of mental strains that are often hasty and only burden the memory lets the allround development of our growing young generation shrivel and sets up all too often a basis for future corporal ailments in our young citizens. It is however a difficult pedagogical problem to select the right relationship between corporal and mental training for the average learner of mankind. It deserves to be rewarded that namely in recent times there have been some purposeful efforts to solve this. Still we are far from attaining the goals. I talk about a rational training of the body suitable for the different ages and development phases, not only from a hygienic but also from an ethical point of view. In the same circumstances a healthy well developed and strong man will perform better in the critical and difficult moments of life than the lamentable product of the overburdening greenhouse culture of the mind that starts to become ill just at the time it should bloom and prosper. Even the most proficient knowledge of the classics, the most intimate familiarity with the subtle secrets of mathematics will nor replace those aspects which make a man a man. A suitable training of the body for our youth seems to me not too costly — I dare say this despite the risk of being accused of having a backward looking attitude —  even if it comes at the price of an important reduction of scientific knowledge as it will not cause a lowering of the mental capabilities but only defer the amount of detailed knowledge to the future — mens sana in corpore sano.

Attending the productions of the future maharaja I could not resist a smile thinking about the way a child of the same age would be presented at home to guests. When the happy time is over during which the main task of the new citizen of the earth is to gain weight, the supporting influence of physical education mostly ceases. The mind is no everything. The child has to learn as much as early as possible. That is the only ambition. Fathers and mothers ask not if the boy runs, jumps, exercises, fences but which class he is in, how successful he is learning, what languages he is speaking. If it is appropriate the tormented child has to offer immediately a proof of its skills.

To the mistaken education methods that focus almost exclusively on the mental education is added a second ambition that becomes even more popular in wide parts of the population that is to send their sons to higher education — an ambition which separates the peasant’s son from the father’s plow, the honest artisan’s son from the father’s profession and adding to the mental proletariat that is mostly also a corporal one. Social politicians and assenting commissions would be better informed about this topic.

On the same meadow where two days ago the polo game had taken place, the brave men of Jodhpur now presented us some riding games, among the already encountered tent-pegging, in which the young son of the maharaja eagerly joined in on a 17 hands tall white horse. Then the cutting in two of goats at a gallop (goat-cutting). At the latter truly Asian game, the rider has to ride at full speed past a dead sheep which is hanging from a derrick and cut the sheep in two with a sharpened sabre. Only if the sheep half falls down after a single stroke, the exercise is considered valid. This time five sheep were hung at intervals of fifty paces. Here too it was Harji Singh who stood out, riding my stallion and slashing right and left cut all sheep in two with a single stroke.

Who has had the opportunity to observe the men of Jodhpur in their half warrior-like, half equestrian games, their skill and audacity, may confirm like us the ruling opinion that the Rajputs truly are the most outstanding and bravest warriors of India.

In a carriage drawn by two very elegant Arabian white horses the maharaja arrived after the end of the riding games and invited us to attend a large competition of his best wrestlers. As the maharaja was already old and heavy to enjoy another sport he finds distraction in training a bunch of the most outstanding wrestlers — more than a hundred in numbers —  all from the Punjab. At the court of Jodhpur these fighters receive in special schools the necessary education by trainers in daily exercices lasting many hours and suitable food. The wrestlers were nourished with limited drinking but plenty of milk and butter but had to abstain from all food and drink the day before a fight. The maharaja is very interested in his charges, knows the capabilities of each one and determines the fighters who would wrestle one another. After the very demanding fights, the wrestlers are given money prizes of 100 rupees each.

We sat surrounded by numerous dignitaries in a large tent in front of which extended the fighting arena filled with white sand. A large crowd surrounded it and participated vividly in the individual phases of the fight. Especially the trainers of the individual wrestlers acted like maniacs and shouted without interruption advice to their charges.  Multiple supervisors guided the fights and looked out that the clearly set rules were enforced. The overall direction was in the hands of a Herculean man tall as a tree, a former wrestler who was known by the title of „the hero“ and used to be the best and undefeated champion of all India.

The wrestlers advanced naked but for a loincloth in pairs into a circle. On a sign by the maharaja the wrestling started. Six pairs entered into the arena. Here there were always wrestlers from different schools set against each other. A circumstance which motivated the wrestlers to give their best. Especially exciting was a fight between a very corpulent wrestler and a more slim colleague. The wrestling ended with a defeat for the colossus which resulted in the victor — both wrestlers were almost unconscious from exhaustion and collapsed — being taken into the arms of his trainer and acclaimed by the crowd.  Each fight was decided finished if one of the wrestler was on the ground with both shoulders. Even if a wrestler had been thrown, he often turned so aptly that he did not lay on his back.

The tenacity, endurance and resistance of these people is admirable as nearly all fights took between 40 and 50 minutes. Given such a complete education of these wrestlers it is easy to explain how an English champion who had arrived in Jodhpur to challenge the wrestlers was defeated after only a few minutes. For two hours we watched the interesting spectacle. Then it was time to think about the dinner as our train was to depart at 9 o’clock in the evening.

At the station we said good-bye to Sir Pratap Singh, Harji Singh, Major Beatson and the other gentlemen whom we came to love during our too short stay here in Jodhpur. Pratap Singh affirmed that of all Europeans whom he has met he would cherish nobody as much as me and my compatriots. We replied to these words with the assurance that only the long before planned route met an end to our stay and confirmed accurately that the Rajputs could count on our full sympathies. We also had the gentlemen promise to visit us in Vienna. Then they shouted in German „Waidmannsheil!“ a word we had taught them — the train started to move and we left Jodhpur from which we departed not without emotion.

Clear moonlight illuminated the mountain and valley while we rushed towards Jaipur. Before midnight, shining red rose on the horizon and a half an hour later we drove right through a large bush fire. The high dry grass was ablaze. Fast as lightning the flames rushed along the ground attacking one strip after the other. Like fiery giant snakes the unchained element rolled on. In red fiery pillars rose the thick smoke up into the night sky, crackling, cracking, rattling as if small caliber guns fired. In billions of sparks the fire was consuming the plain.

Links

  • Location:  Jodhpur, India
  • ANNO – on 02.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The second issue of „Die Waffen nieder!“ by the pacifist Bertha von Suttner has been published.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a drama „Kriemhilde“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents again „Die Rantzau“.

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