I was met at the station by Uncle Hogg. He pulled me through crowds and past newspaper boys shouting out the latest news: ‘Will Russia Invade India? What Is Their Game?’ He took me to India House on Leadenhall Street to have lunch in the richly furnished private dining room the bigwigs of ‘John Company’ enjoyed. We had curry but Uncle Hogg seized the box of turkish delight and proudly offered it to everyone who eagerly sampled some. Maeve’s sweet was apparently famous. Uncle Hogg kept waving every bigwig down to introduce ‘my nephew here John Nicholson!’.I ‘pressed the flesh’ with a blur of nabobs who got to be nabobs on the backs and the blood of soldiers such as I was going to be. That was a difference I, and they, and Uncle Hogg, were all keenly aware of . By evening I was at his rich nabob townhouse on Grosvenor St. It was a rich corner unit of a towering block long mass of ‘streaky bacon’ style red brick townhouses accented by cream stone in long bands like raw bacon. Towering chestnut trees softened the front of the mass of brick and stone.
The interior of his home was almost cliche nabob. It was filled with the riches of India. Bronzes. Carpets. Wooden shutters. Bric-a-brac. Whole elephant tusks carved from top to bottom. Vases. You name it. Even his servants were Indian.
“I thought Indians could not travel across the ‘black water’?” I asked.
‘Only Brahmin and Rajput castes” Uncle Hogg explained. Most of the Bengal Army is made up of those top two castes while the Bombay and Madras Armies are mixed caste, all types. I always bothered me that the Bengal Army, the largest mercenary army that ‘John Company’ employs, is so tightly recruited from the two top castes. And the Brahmins come mostly from Oudh Principality too. Such a concentration. My instincts say this is not wise. I am trying to sell India House on the idea of recruiting from Northwest Punjab: the Sikhs, the Gurkhas, the Punjabis, the Pathans. Opening up the Bengal Army so it is not so concentrated. They are the only army that still demands that the regimental colors be blessed each year by a Brahmin priest. It used to be charming but….I don’t know……. my guts say there could be a problem festering right under our noses and we just are not seeing it because ‘John Company’ has always adored and spoiled the Brahmin and Rajput sepoys and Muslim sowars.”
“How do they feel about us British?”
Uncle Hogg shrugged as his servants silently appeared and disappeared in the shadowy depths of the great mansion, their slippers making no sound. “Hard to say. I have employed the same servants for decades. Out of loyalty I offered to continue to employ them here if they were willing. Or else give them a goodly severance. It was their choice. They are paid very well. They send money home every month. They support whole villages with those stipends. But do they like me? Do we even understand each other? I respect Indians. I think Indians respect me. But there is an uneasy relationship nevertheless between us.
We need each other. We use each other. But why are we in India? Not even we can explain it. And the Indians think it. Why are we in India? We try to justify our presence by bending over backwards to prove how much we are helping them but at the end of the day I think the Indians don’t care what we do. We just constructed a huge irrigation and transportation canal called the Doab for instance. We hope it will stop famines when the monsoon rains fail. We are rebuilding all of the old canals that have fallen into disrepair too and blueprinted new canals. But do crowds of people dance around the Doab? No. Frankly no. Famines come. Famines go. If given the choice I suspect the Indians would rather suffer famine and see us go.”
I pointed to a triangular green flag with Arabic writing on it mounted on the wall.
“Do the Muslims integrate well?”
“Uncle Hogg waved one hand in an iffy gesture. “They never forgave us for supplanting them. You see under the Mughals the Muslims had the best jobs. The best cut of everything. The biggest slice of the tax pie. They were the top ruling caste. It is enshrined you see. A Muslim in the Koran and Sharia Law is the top boy! Top of the top of the peeking order of society. Everyone else must kowtow and wear special labels on their clothes identifying themselves as inferiors. And inferiors can not enjoy luxuries or ride horses or elephants or camels. They have to use inferior animals and live in ghettos. Their churches or synagogues or temples can be burned down whenever a Muslim felt like it, and unless a permit is issued then churches and synagogues or temples will not be allowed to be built. In India hundreds of temples were destroyed or looted. Thousands and thousands of Hindu and Buddhists were murdered. Perhaps as much as a million souls died at the hands of Muslims.
Brahmins think they are a big caste too and they are zealots for pollution. We are officially the Weird Caste being only ‘Once Born’ like the Untouchables but powerful. We pollute their spiritual purity. If you were dying and beg a Brahmin for a drink of water he could not share his brass drinking bowl with you. But the difference is he would either sacrifice his bowl to give you a drink or else apologize profoundly and sit by your side and pray for your soul to be reincarnated into a better caste in your next life. Brahmins don’t think they are better so much as think they are Brahmins because they earned the caste in past lives of sacrifice and honor. They think an inferior caste ‘Twice Born’ committed a sin to be punished by being reborn in a bad place. Untouchables are ‘One Born’ and literally do not have full grown souls yet. It is like siting next to a criminal in chains John. Would you be all chatty with a rapist and murderer in chains about to be hung? No! Same difference.
Kafirs: filthy, literally, filthy, defiant unbelievers. Dhimmi: filthy unbelievers who accept their groveling subjection by groveling submission under the heel of the Muslim. To refuse to convert is a sin you understand. An act of defiance. Willful defiance. It is almost blasphemy you understand, to a Muslim. It is basically denying the One Religion and the One God and the One Prophet. And blasphemy is punished by death. So Kafirs and Dhimmi are human offal. Hindu and Buddhists think the religion finds you. Muslims are obligated by the Koran and Sharia Law to convert the Unbelievers because Paradise on Earth will not come until the entire world is Muslim.
At Jizya Tax time there was a special ritual just to collect the special taxes from the Dhimmi complete with ritual humiliation. And everyone was forced to pay. Including dead people which was not suppose to be required. And if you could not pay then your children could be taken and enslaved and forced to convert. Muslims always say they are so tolerant of inferiors but I really can’t imagine a child enjoying being dragged away from his or her family, and enslaved, and forced to covert or die, only to then be turned into either a sex slave, an eunuch, or cannon fodder. Would you?
So under the Mughals anyone who refused to convert became automatically a lower caste to Muslims. That in turn quietly enraged the Brahmin and Rajput castes who used to be the top castes. You must understand to loose your caste, if you are a top caste, is horrifying. Caste is not just ‘class’ but more. Much more. Well. I digress. When we Europeans came we took over World Trade which was pretty much controlled by Muslims and when ‘John Company’ acquired the right to tax we again took over a right and a privilege and a luxury Muslims enjoyed. So as we have become richer the Muslims ruling caste has become poorer.
Many of the Brahmins never had money to lose. Top caste is not the same as rich caste. The rich caste is the Trader Caste. As for the peasants. Who cares what the name of the yoke is called? We did not disturb the castes except we pushed out the Muslim Ruler Caste and took over that position on the totem pole. But that meant the Muslims, originally top ruling caste, became the Lost Caste.
And of course being Kafir and Dhimmi it is insulting too because Muslims in Sharia Law have every right legally to lord over the inferiors. And Kafirs and Dhimmi have no rights. Kafirs and Dhimmi are sub-humans. Worth literally half a Muslim in blood money. A Muslim could kill a Kafir and Dhimmi and only pay half — except of course they never in fact paid a cent. They killed with immunity. Convert or die. And it is a sin for a Kafir or Dhimmi to defy, fight, or command a Muslim. So when a British officer, or even a senior NCO, Native Company Officer, commands a Muslim sowar cavalryman it is actually sinful. Humiliating. It is worrying really.” Uncle Hogg paused for a moment, pondering, as if debating whether or not to tell me something. Then he continued. And the top secret he confided in me was frightening….