Thursday, January 28, 2010
Theatre of the Titans-- the story of Agra
Strategically located at the heart of India in the rich alluvial plains between the great Ganga and Jamuna rivers, Agra was a vibrant religious and commercial centre for the last three thousand years. But it matured and perfected itself only when the Mughals chose to make it their home. Agra became the grand theatre in which they played out the entire range of human emotions on a titanic scale: Their loves and passions for which they could kill and be killed, their tremendous energy, their mercurial moods and lust for power which made them drive their armies across vast swathes of inhospitable lands. And yet they can hardly be dismissed as rapacious invaders, or indolent, sybaritic rulers. What elevated them into grand figures that dominated Indian history was not simply their ability to consolidate territory, but their sense of justice, grace and charity, their compassion, refinement, love of nature and, above all, devotion to the arts. This is what has endured.
Earlier, the five raids into India had been but short stabs, pillaging junkets to fill his coffers and feed his army. But in November 1525, setting out from Kabul before the snows blocked the passes of the Hindu Kush, he challenged Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat, who with a hundred thousand troops outnumbered the invaders five to one, and defeated him in a flourish of military genius. One could have expected nothing less: the blood of the Tatar, Timur, and that of the Mongol, Chengiz Khan flowed in his veins. “That very day,” he writes in his memoirs, “I directed Humayun Mirza...to set out without baggage or encumberances, and proceed with all possible expedition to occupy Agra, and take possession of the treasuries.” At Agra the Raja of Gwalior sued for peace by offering Humayun the Koh-i-Noor diamond. The son in turn offered it to his father. Zahiruddin Muhammed Babur, prince of Ferghana, founder of the great Mughal Empire was here to stay.
And yet he was not enamoured by India. “Hindustan is a country of few charms,” he complained. The heat was unbearable and he missed the water, the mountains and melons of Kabul. Once, when the fragrance of an Afghan melon had enveloped his table, he wept as he ate it. To assuage his sense of loss, Babur set about trying to recreate the gardens of his homeland in Agra. It was not an easy task. He scouted along the eastern bank of the Jamuna for a suitable site and found, “those grounds...so bad and unattractive that we traversed them with a hundred disgusts and repulsions.” With prodiguous imagination Babur transformed the sere lands into beautiful quartered gardens with fruit trees imported from Kabul, tanks, lily ponds with cascading waters running into water channels, with pavilions and pleasure houses cooled by the river breeze, to idle away warm afternoons.
Today most of these have either disappeared under the slums of the ever-swelling Agra populous, or are in bad repair. Resist the overwhelming urge to flee Agra after seeing the Taj and cross over to the eastern bank by way of the narrow Strachey Bridge (1860, and still going strong, thank God). Turn left towards the tomb of Itmad-u-Daula and ask for ‘Ram Bagh,’ a corruption of Aram Bagh, which was originally Bagh-i-Gul Afshan. Built on three levels, this garden is the first of the Islamic Char Bagh or quartered garden in India. The Char Bagh was supposed to be an earthly reflection of the Garden of Paradise, frequently mentioned in the Quran, which awaits those who are worthy of heaven. The four water channels dividing the garden into four parts symbolise the four rivers of paradise: of water, milk, honey and wine; the trees and shade, the abundance in the garden of paradise. Sadly, few trees remain and little has been done to prevent the garden from turning into a dust bowl. Besides the mad cacophony from the nearby National Highway, another jarring note was struck a few centuries ago when the Emperor Jehangir decided to make a few alterations to his grandfather’s garden. Love-struck he renamed it after his new and favourite queen, Bagh-i-Nur Afshan, and comissioned two suites on the left terrace by the river. The suites in themselves are beautifully executed with hansa (swan-shaped) brackets supporting the chhajjas. A large stone tank with a mahtab, or island platform dominates the centre. However, built as it is on the left and not the centre it disturbs the symmetry of the perfectly balanced char bagh. If you lean out far enough and look up river to your right, you will see a ruined tower and chhatri, the remains of Nur Jehan ki Sarai. Jehangir’s exceptionally talented wife had acquired this property around 1612 as her Jagir. Knowing the strategic location she built the Sarai and was entitled to collect duties on goods before they were shipped across the river. 17th c. travellers accounts show that it was spacious enough to accomodate 500 horses and 2000-3000 men with their retinue. Only the brave should venture there today as it has been turned into a garbage dump.
Babur was not only an accomplished general and horticulturist, but also a poet, musician and calligrapher. His memoirs, the Babur Nama is a literary masterpiece, candid and delightful. Where else will one find an emperor confessing that he was so bashful that his mother “used to send [him] once a month or every forty days, with driving and driving, dunnings and worryings...” to his wife’s bed. Equally candid is his description of his mad infatuation with a bazar boy called Baburi, who caused him “to wander, bare-head, bare-foot, through street, lane, orchard and vineyard...”
He was deeply distressed by bad writing and often upbraided Humayun for his obscure prose. But he loved his eldest dearly whom he found a highly cultivated and lovable companion. In 1530 when Humayun fell critically ill, the Emperor brushed away suggestions of offering Humayun’s diamond as a propitiation, offering his own life instead, contending that it was more valuable to Humayun than his diamond. Mughal chroniclers insist that almost instantly the Prince Royal gained in strength as the Emperor’s began to ebb. “For years it has been in my heart to make over the throne to Humayun and to retire to the Bagh-i-Zer Afshan or, gold-scattering garden, (also known as Bagh-i- Hasht Bihisht or Garden of Eight Pardises),” Babur confided to his noblemen. “By Divine Grace I have obtained in health of body everything but the fulfilment of this wish...Now when illness has laid me low, I charge you all to acknowledge Humayun in my stead.” He died on December 26, 1530, and interred in his favourite garden until 1539 when his remains were taken to his final resting-place on the Shah-i-Kabul hill in Afghanistan.
To find the historic site of the favourite garden and temporary burial place of our first Mughal Emperor, take the road on the right just before Itmad-u-Daula. About a hundred yards down a small lane, which doubles as a pissoir runs to the left. Skirt the mud and muck till you reach the rusted gate with the rusted lock. Chances are that the chowkidar has just left on an important official errand and won’t be back, alas, until the evening. Looking through the iron gates you will find a large, wan building, now the sporting place of rhesus monkeys. This was once the Chauburj, the Emperor’s pleasure pavilion when he was alive, and his burial place later. It was once at the centre of a large and beautiful char bagh. The garden is long gone, part of it taken over by a DDT factory. It is difficult to quell the rising disgust.
To lighten the black mood a trip to another of Babur’s garden is a must. Take a right instead of a left after Strachey Bridge and ask for the village Kacchpura. After a couple of kilometres the road ends at a T-junction with the village on your left. On the right, on the banks of the Jamuna is Babur’s less celebrated Mahtab Bagh. The Emperor could not have anticipated that his great-grandson would one day build the greatest monument to love on the opposite bank! Some ASI official (bless his soul) took it upon himself to breathe life into the garden, and lo! you actually have green turf and fruit trees and Agra’s best kept secret. Indeed, the best views of the Taj are to be had from this garden, without the milling hordes that invade its precincts everyday.
Humayun may have been, as Mirza Haider Dughlat wrote, “possessed of so much natural talent and excellence,” in battle and in conversation. He was also kind-hearted and generous, a skilled mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, but these qualities did little to save him from the terrible privations he had to suffer after Babur’s death. His name will always be inextricably linked with that of the Afghan, Sher Shah Sur, who battled him for three hard years and then chased him out of Hindustan for the next fifteen. Addicted to opium, the prince, and later, emperor, would dull the sharpness of his suffering by imbibing large quantities of it with rose water. When not on the run or doing battle, Humayun was absorbed in astrology and astronomy, manifesting his passion in the most eccentric way. The business at court was not conducted according to excegencies of matter on hand but deferred to the planets: Sunday and Tuesday for government, as the sun regulates sovereignity and Mars is the patron of soldiers. Similarly, Saturday and Thursday was devoted to matters of religion and so forth. He even went as far as dressing himself and his ministers according to the colours of the planets associated with particular days.
A stone’s throw from Babur’s Mahtab Bagh, on the banks of the Jamuna, in a field near a couple of date palms are the remains of Humayun’s observatory. Called Gyarah Sidi , (eleven steps) referring to the steps overlooking the hemispherical cavities in the ground from which astronomical readings could be taken. Though nowhere close to their size, Humayun’s observatory is an interesting, dimunitive precursor to the massive Jantar Mantars at Jaipur and Delhi built nearly two hundred years later. At nearby Kacchpura village, a short walk through narrow, interesting lanes and bylanes will bring you to the handsome Panchmukhi (five-arched) Mosque, now partially in ruins and whitewashed by the enthusiatic local imam. An inscription on the mosque dates 1530.
In a way both Agra and astrology were to become the cause of Humayun’s death in 1556. He was preparing to shift court from Delhi to Agra when he decided to consult his astrologers on the significance of rise of Venus on his affairs. They marched up to the roof of his library and observatory. On his way down he paused as the muezzin called the faithful to evening prayer. As he proceeded his foot caught in his robes, he stumbled, and soon, as they say, he was history. But he may well have fallen out of the pages of history and remembered dimly as Akbar the Great’s obscure father had his wife, Haji Begum, not acted. In 1564 Delhi gasped as the magnificent Humayun’s tomb materialised to become one of the finest specimens of Mughal architecture and an inspiration for the Taj Mahal.
On the 26th of June, 1579, at the age of thirty-seven, Humayun’s son startled his subjects by mounting the pulpit of the Jama Masjid at Fatehpur Sikri to deliver the Friday sermon which he ended with the words, “...Exalted is His majesty, Allah ho Akbar!” The mullahs howled in protest, for what is the common enough invocation of God is Great, could also be read as God is Akbar, or Akbar = God. It was not the Emperor’s vanity which prompted the utterence but a gauntlet thrown to challenge orthodoxy. It encapsulated Akbar’s spirit perfectly: liberal, wise, courageous, resolute and free. It was this spirit which made him abolish the hateful Jaziya tax on non-Muslim subjects, caused him to experiment with religion and philosophy to create the new Din-i-Illahi, prompted him to marry Rajput princesses, and invite hundreds of artists, litterateurs and musicians to his court. Akbar was illiterate, and yet he had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, having books read to him from his vast personal library of 24,000 volumes valued at 6.5 million rupees. He maintained a translation department at court, which translated into Persian the Mahabharat, Ramayan and Leelavati, a sanskrit poetic treatise on arithmetic. It was a glorious age for Agra, and the beginning of a veritable rennaisance.
Though tending towards a benign nature Akbar could also be ruthless towards his enemies. One warm Agra afternoon when he reposed in the harem, a great commotion arose outside: Adham Khan, Akbar’s general had just murdered Atga Khan, the emperor’s foster father in a fit of jealousy. Akbar ran out, half-naked, and bellowed at the murderer: “You son of a bitch, why have you killed our Atga?” And before he could answer, Akbar felled him with a blow, which according to a chronicler left a mark like a mace-wound on Adham Khan’s face. Then the emperor ordered him to flung from the terrace repeatedly until he died.
Akbar was the first of the great Mughal builders. Under him Agra became Akbarabad, the old Lodhi fort was replaced by a new architectural style of the Agra Fort, built between 1565-73, costing, according to Abul Fazl, Akbar’s friend and chronicler, three and a half million rupees. Its 2.5 kilometres long ramparts which rise up to seventy feet are cased with perfectly polished red sandstone, its towers and battlements, gateways and enclosures are not simply features of a well-designed fortress but measure up to the proportions of an artistic marvel.
However, the fort seemed to be haunted by poltergeists and was doubly unlucky for Akbar who lost all his children in infancy.
It was this misfortune which made him plead with Salim Chishti, resident saint of Sikri, for divine intervention. The saint obliged, a son was born to his Rajput Hindu wife and a grateful father named him Salim after the sage. Not stopping there, the Emperor ordered a new imperial capital to be built and personally supervised its construction. Monserrate, a Jesuit priest records that Akbar even “quarried stone along with his workmen.” And after his triumphant campaign in Gujarat in 1572 he returned and named the city Fatehpur Sikri (Place of Victory), building the commemorative doorway of Buland Darwaza at the Jama Masjid. An astonishing city took shape: pavilions and courtyards, domes, balconies, terraces, gardens, elegant cupolas, tanks, pools and baths. The architecture sheltered the imperial household from the harsh north Indian sun, but it also allowed for the play of filtered or refracted light and air through latticed windows and doors. The complex has geometry, but it is not severe. Fatehpur Sikri is playful and full of surprises: turn a corner and find an enchanted walled garden; climb out of an apartment and find a tree perfectly framed in a window. There was a time when you could climb up to the Panchmahal and enjoy the breeze on a moonlit night. Alas, these pleasures have been curbed by an overcautious bureaucracy.
Curiously, the only incongruous note is struck by the advice inscribed on the massive Buland Darwaza: “The world is a bridge: pass over it, but build no house upon it. The world endures but an hour: spend it in prayer...” This from a master builder and one who besides prayer also lived life to its fullest. While living with his beloved saint at his hermitage in Sikri in 1571, the irrepressible emperor caused Salim Chishti’s relatives to complain that their wives “were becoming estranged” from them. Unperturbed, the saint is reported to have advised: “There is no dearth of women in the world. Since I have made you amirs, seek other wives, what does it matter!”
Akbar’s final years were not easy. His trusted friends and companions had passed away and his heir apparent was champing at the bit to take over his empire which he had extended to west to Malwa and Gujarat, east to Orissa and Bengal, south into the Deccan and north into Kashmir and Kabul. After Salim’s failed insurrection and capture, Dutch sources at Akbar’s court record how while the emperor had honoured and forgiven his son in public, he had slapped and berated him in private: “You have paid no attention to my commands or letters which I have so often written to you. You raised the standard of revolt against me and made yourself king, which has put me to shame before all kings...You hope to become king after my death; but if you rule in the same manner in which you have acted so far, your empire will not last long.”
Akbar passed away at the age of 63 at Agra. But before he died he designed his own tomb at Sikandra, an architectural marvel of tiered pavilions and elegant chhatris. An inscription on the mausoleum reads: “These are the Gardens of Eden: enter them to dwell eternally.” It is a pleasant resting-place for the great emperor. Even today Black Buck graze peacefully on its grounds. There is not a hint of the violence that took place when irate Jats, revolting against Aurangzeb’s oppression of non-Muslims, in a supreme act of irony, plundered the grave and burnt the bones of the greatest champion of their faith.
Although the building of Sikandra was started during Akbar’s lifetime it was only completed during Jehangir’s. Jehangir talents did not lie in architecture, as has already been observed of his efforts at Aram Bagh. His unfortunate intervention at his father’s tomb at Sikandra are also in evidence: the perfect symmetry of the red sandstone gate is disturbed by the large, incongruous marble minarets. A central dome should have completed the five tiered mausoleum, instead there are marble pavilions, lending an almost incomplete air to the building.
But why must every king be an accomplished architect? Jehangir’s talents lay in extending the peace and prosperity of the kingdom he inherited. He was a prodiguous collector of, and authority on art and a keen naturalist, a designer of his own clothes and scientist. Besides, he more than made up for his lack of building skills by marrying Nur Jehan, who designed and executed architectural wonders of her own.
Nur Jehan was almost abandoned as a new born by her parents who fled Persia in 1577 to find employment at Akbar’s court. The infant howled and shrieked so much that her parents were forced to return to collect her. She showed the same indomitable will throughout her life. Rumour has it that Jehangir had set eyes on her much to Akbar’s disapproval who had her married off to a captain in the army and transferred him to Bengal. They say that when Jehangir ascended the throne he had the hapless captain murdered and took Nur Jehan as his wife in 1611. Jehangir, spent more hours in intoxication than not, which left the empress plenty of scope to govern herself. The emperor, awe-struck, minted coins in her name with the inscription: “Gold has a hundred splendours added to it by receiving the impression of the name of Nur Jehan, the Queen Begum.”
Nur Jehan ruled with the help of her family. Like a skilled chess player she layed her board carefully: Her father, Ghiyas-ud-Din was bestowed with the title, Itmad-ud-Daula and held the position of Lord of the Treasury. Asaf Khan, her brother, was made Prime Minister and further strengthened his position by marrying his daughter, Mumtaz Mahal to the Heir Apparent, Shah Jehan. Her father’s brother, Mirza Ismail Beig she made Commander-in Chief of the army. However, her decline began in 1621 with the death of her mother and confidante, and accelerated the following year with the death of her father and Shah Jehan’s revolt. Nur Jehan was down, but not out. She channeled her energies into creating a wondrous mausoleum for her parents. Situated on the eastern bank of the Jamuna, Nur Jehan first envisioned the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula to be in silver, but anticipating the danger of theft, she chose marble instead. It was a radical depature from the architecture of the age, which favoured the more masculine polished red sandstone. Nur Jehan’s creation is entirely feminine and sits like a beautiful ivory jewel case by the river.
It was a burning, sultry June of 1658. Dara Shikoh, defeated in the battle of Samogarh, had fled Agra. Aurangzeb, challenger to the throne, laid a seige on the Fort and now he cut off the channel which brought the river waters into the ramparts. The ageing emperor Shah Jehan, unable to drink well water was desperate: “My Son, my hero!” he wrote in a letter to the man he despised, “Why should I complain of unkind fortune, seeing that not a leaf falls without God’s will? Yesterday I had an army of nine hundred thousand, today I am in need of a pitcher of water! O prosperous son, be not proud of the good luck of this treacherous world!”
Aurangzeb sent the letter back with an impatient scribble: “Karda-i-khwesh ayed pesh”— as we sow, so we reap!
He was not wrong. The Mughals were a strange lot. To stay in power was like balancing an egg on your nose in a pit of vipers. Jehangir set the precedent of revolt. He was also the first to blind his own son, Khusrau, in punishment. Shah Jehan, born Khurram, learnt well. He revolted against his father, and when he became emperor, he had all his rivals executed for good measure. Never before had royal blood been spilt on a Mughal emperor’s accession to the throne, and Shah Jehan would indeed reap the grim rewards of this deed in his dotage.
Born to the Hindu princess, Jodh Bai, and favourite grandson of Akbar, Shah Jehan was an enigmatic ruler. He never wrote his memoirs and the work of court chroniclers had to pass through the emperor’s hands before they were made public. But from European sources a picture emerges of a ruler with poise and authority, a devout Muslim whose orthodoxy was only later tempered by his beloved son, Dara’s, liberal influence.
No doubt Shah Jehan had a magnificent artistic vision for apart from his monument to love he was also the force behind the delicate marble apartments and the Pearl Mosque in the Agra Fort. He founded the magnificent new capital of Shahjehanabad at Delhi and it was in his reign that the legendary Peacock Throne was created. Made of pure gold and encrusted with the finest jewels of the empire, it didn’t come cheap: Tavernier, the French jeweller, added the sum up to 107 million rupees. The Taj, too, which took 20,000 men working incessantly for 22 years cost a pretty packet. Added to this were Shah Jehan’s expensive military campaigns against Kandahar, which cost a prohibitive120 million rupees. None of these would have mattered if the Mughal administration had not suffered during Shah Jehan’s reign. And though it was true that with the Taj the Mughal sun had reached its zenith, its journey now could only be one of decline.
It was a profligate age. Even minor officials had magnificent tombs built for themselves. On the eastern bank of the Jamuna, not far from Itmad-ud-Daula’s tomb stands the beautiful Chini-ka-Rauza, tomb of the emperor’s favourite poet, Shakrulla Shirazi, brother of the master calligrapher of the Taj. It is worth a visit for its facade of polychromatic glazed tiles— a Persian invention and the only one of its kind in India. Just off the Gwalior Road in the village Tal Firuz Khan, stands the unusual tomb of the chief eunuch and caretaker of Shah Jehan’s harem, Firuz Khan. His personal service had been so exemplary that the emperor had rewarded him with a large jagir and rank of 3000 horse. The Tomb of Firuz Khan is built entirely of red sandstone, and has the unique feature of the main gateway with a broad staircase attached to the eastern side of the building through which one ascends to the terrace on which lies the sepulchre.
The emperor, they say, was completely devoted to his wife, Mumtaz. In the nineteen years that they were married, the exceptionally fecund queen would bear him eight sons and six daughters of which half survived in equal measures. It was in Burhanpur in June 1631, with the long and painful labour of her youngest daughter that the thirty-eight year old Mumtaz died. Her body was temporarily interred until the winter when young prince Shuja brought her body back to Agra in solemn procession. A plot had been acquired on the banks of the Jamuna from Raja Jai Singh and almost instantly the work on the Taj Mahal began.
Tons of white marble was lugged from the quarries of Makrana in Rajasthan a hundred miles away, red sandstone for the foundation and gates was brought from Fatehpur Sikri. Precious stone inlay work required lapis lazuli from Ceylon, turquoise from Tibet, jasper from Cambay, malachite from Russia, carnelian from Baghdad, chrysolite from Egypt, as well as agate, chalcedony, sardonyx, quartz, jade, amethyst, and black marble. Scores of master craftsmen and jewellers flocked to Agra from all over the empire as well as from Constantinople, Samarkand, Kandahar and Baghdad. Twenty-two years later the emperor’s dream materialised.
Or did it? It still shimmers and floats as if in a mirage. Take a guide. It is interesting to have the fruits of Mughal genius listed out for one: the perfect symmetry of the charbagh, the baoli near the masjid, the naubatkhana, the height and width of the Taj Mahal, the perfection of the calligraphy adorning its gates. But then get rid of him and spend an hour or two dallying in the pleasant lawns. Watch in silence and let its poetry speak to you. As it obviously did even to the wretch Aurangzeb who, after his father’s death had the magnificent marble screen built around the sepulchres.
Poor Aurangzeb has been condemned by posterity for his unrelenting Islamic fundamentalism whose reverberations can be felt in the sub-continent even today. So many of us have conjectured idly what India’s fate would have been had Shah Jehan’s legitimate successor not been horribly betrayed by Jai Singh of Jaipaur and Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, and allowed to ascend the throne. In Dara Shikoh ran Akbar’s blood and passion for the heterodox spiritual traditions of India. Dara was a pacifist, kind, compassionate, generous, erudite. He translated the Bhagvad Gita into Persian and was a generous patron of the arts. His palace has survived the ravages of time and Agra’s people. Just north of the Fort, opposite the Hathi Ghat a congested road leaves the main road by the river. Immediately to the right follow a small lane which leads to a gate, which leads to a courtyard nearly overrun by encroachments. In front is a small handsome red sandstone building built on a tall plinth: Dara Shikoh’s Palace. A small marble plaque proclaims that the British had converted it into the Municipal Hall of Agra in 1882. A larger tin board insists, heritage or not, it is now a higher secondary school. It was here that Shah Jehan often rested on his return journeys before he made the ceremonial entrance into the Fort.
Dara, the ‘Mystic Prince’ was more inclined towards sufis and sadhus. In this enterprise he was joined by his eldest sister, the highly accomplished and cultured Jahanara, both formally being initiated into the sufi Qadariya order. Jahanara became virtual empress after Mumtaz’s death, and apart from skilfully managing the zenana, wrote poetry and an acclaimed biography of the saints of Kashmir. Her architectural skills are evident in the Jama Masjid of Agra, just north of the Fort, with the most unusual chevron pattern on its domes. Sadly, after rebels had mounted canons and bombarded the Fort in 1857 the magnificent gate was destroyed by the British.
Dara Shikoh had scandalised the ulema by his poetry: “With what name should one call Truth? Every name that that exists is one of God’s names”; and more pointedly: “In the city where a mullah resides, no wise man is ever found!” These utterances formed the basis of Aurangzeb’s case of apostasy against Dara, the justification for his war against his father and brothers and their eventual murder. In a letter to the imprisoned Shah Jehan, Aurangzeb protests that kingship had been forced upon him “by sheer necessity and not from free choice, in order to restore peace and the rules of Islam in the realm.” Only thus could he stand before Allah on the Day of Judgement.
But it was a case of protesting too much. In another anguished letter Aurangzeb wrote: “Although I heard that disturbances were being raised...I refused to lend credence to hearsay and remained loyal to you...till I knew for certain that you did not love me....”
Shah Jehan had been unfair. Keeping Dara close to him at court and lavishing honour and wealth upon him while his other sons, Shuja, Murad, and especially Aurangzeb were forever relegated to govern distant provinces, fight difficult campaigns and still be on the receiving end of his censure. Aurangzeb’s letters to his father are a moving testimony to the hurt he had suffered. Was his rebellion, jealousy, and resolute cruelty which ultimately destroyed the Mughal empire the howling rage of an unloved son? On his death-bed Aurangzeb wrote a final letter to his son Kam Baksh: “Soul of my soul...I am going alone...Every torment I have inflicted, every sin I have committed, every wrong I have done, I carry the consequences with me. Strange, that I came into the world with nothing, and now I am going away with this stupendous caravan of sin!...Wherever I look, I see only God...I have sinned terribly, and I do not know what punishment awaits me...”
One almost feels sorry for him.