Page 305. " I have the Jataka; and I have thee, Friend of all the World. "


The Jātaka Tales is an epic work comprising 547 poems and concerning the previous births of the Buddha. The folklore-like body of stories is native to India, and the original text is in Sanskrit. The Jataka Tales are also known in other countries through other languages - notably Malay, Burmese, Thai, Lao and Khmer.

Read a selection of translations from the Jataka Tales



Page 314. " The most of them knew rifles and sahibs of old: they were trackers and shikarris of the northern valleys "

During the Raj era, hunting was seen as a truly 'regal’ sport. Big game shooting for trophies was common; hunting tigers carried the greatest risk and equivalent prestige.

Many British officers maintained a whole corps of shikarris, native professional hunters. These men were often recruited from local tribes for their knowledge of the terrain and skill in tracking. They may not have been skilled in hunting before the arrival of the British on the subcontinent, as Indian social norms are generally opposed to hunting. A few sects, like the Bishnoi, lay special emphasis on the conservation of particular species like the antelope.

British hunting parties usually came equipped not only with a group of shikarris but with a full retinue of servants, cooks and orderlies. Hence, the Russian and French spies posing as hunters are held in disdain by their coolies as they have few other employees and are forced to cook for themselves (317).  



This 1930s Punch cartoon shows an Englishman asking how his son fared at shooting that day. ("How did the sahib shoot?") The native hunter wisely replies, "The sahib shot well, but Allah was good to the birds."