As in my other books, so in this one I have drawn largely upon my personal experiences, hoping thereby to bring the reader more into touch, as it were, with the people of India than would otherwise be possible. Facts of Indian life gathered from men and women directly concerned in each case, carefully sifted by me and punctually noted, occupy a considerable portion of the volume; while legends and stories have also a place in it. The illustrations are intended to elucidate the text, and will, I trust, be found to serve the end in view. I have striven, to the best of my ability, to be scrupulously impartial in my. judgments of the character and institutions of the interesting peoples about whom I have written. But I am well aware of the extreme difficulty, or even impossibility, of being impartial without giving offence in some quarter or other, and particularly so when dealing with India, for both Hindus and Muslims are very sensitive to and intolerant of criticism. However, the educated amongst them know full well that there are many objectionable features in the beliefs and practices connected with some of the more secret Hindu cults, and in certain prevailing customs both religious and social. Against these defects many strong protests have been made by native reformers.
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