Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Carpet Sahib, the white Saint

Carpet Sahib, the White Saint

He and his father were born in India. He was born in Nainital. His father was a Post Master of the town. By profession, he was a hunter turned conservationist, famous for hunting man-eating Tigers and Leopards. He was called upon frequently to kill man-eating Tigers and Leopards who were on preying on people living in the villages of Kumaon. He had hunt many man eater tigers and leopards including the 'Champawat Tigress" that had killed 436 humans, as she was suffering from a leg injury and was unable to kill wilds. Wild animals suffering from disease or wounds turned into man-eater.  British government had announced a prize of Rs. 10,000/- in those days for killing that tigress. He and his sister remained unmarried and were living a simple life living in a village Kaladungi 40 km away from Nainital. After his retirement, he authored a book, Man-Eaters of Kumaon, the best seller of those days later translated into 27 languages. A film was also made with same name. He authored other books too.

The atmosphere of India was violent fearful during 46-47. British families saw it a risk to their lives. They believed that as soon as the independence takes place, the violent people will turn over them and will kill them. It was therefore, all the British from India left during the phase of that insurgency. They were categorised with three groups: the Lords: Viceroys, Members, Ministers, etc.; The elites: ICS officers and other high rank officials; and the Country Bottles: the common British Whites living like Indians and were speaking Indian languages. For them, India was their "mother land". Many remember even today, their births, school days, etc, in India.

He was one of those Country Bottles, retired with his sister to Nyeri, Kenya, the another British Colony after 1947. One can imagine the pain of his heart while leaving the country at the age of 71 years, where he had lived whole of his life. He was survived for another 9 years in Kenya but his heart was in India. He wrote  a book "My India" and dedicated it to .... "my friends, the poor of India". He was humanist. He had adopted a village in Kumayun, and continued paying the land revenue of that village from Kenya.

On 5-6 February 1952, at the time of her father's death, Princess Elizabeth stayed in the hut of a ficus tree built on the top, Corbett wrote: "For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess, and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down from the tree the next day a Queen—God bless her."

People remember him as "White Saint" as he had saved the kumaon and garwal villagers from the man-eater wilds. Unable to pronounce his name properly, people called him Carpet Sahib. Carpet... Corbett, he was the famous wildlife man, Jim (James Edward) Corbett. He was very close to Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant and Pandit Nehru. After his death on 19/4/1955, the Hailey Nation Park (established in 1936) was renamed as Jim Corbett National Park in 1957, to pay the honour to Jim who played a key role in its establishment. Five subspecies of tigers have been named after him, Panthera tigris corbetti.

Our salute to the Great Indian. 

25 May 2016


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