The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

Postby admin » Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:16 am

Part 1 of 3

CHAP. VI.

Religion.

It is difficult to determine whether the constitution of the government and the provisions of law, or Religion, have, among the Hindus, the greatest influence upon the lives of individuals, and the operations of society. Beside the causes which usually give superstition a powerful sway in ignorant and credulous ages, the order of priests obtained a greater authority in India than in any other region of the globe; and this again they employed with astonishing success in multiplying and corroborating the ideas on which their power and consequence depended. Every thing in Hindustan was transacted by the Deity. The laws were promulgated, the people were classified, the government was established, by the Divine Being. The astonishing exploits of the Divinity were endless in that sacred land. For every stage of life from the cradle to the grave; for every hour of the day; for every function of nature; for every social transaction, God prescribed a number of religious observances. And meditation upon his incomprehensible attributes, as it was by far the most difficult of all human operations, so was it that glorious occupation which alone prepared the intense votary for the participation of the Divine nature.

Of so extensive and complicated a subject, as the religion of the Hindus, a very general view can alone be taken here. All that is interesting to the politician and the philosopher, may, however, it is presumed, be confined within a moderate space. The task is rendered difficult by the unparalleled vagueness which marks the language of the Brahmens respecting the nature of the gods, the vast multiplicity of their fictions, and the endless discrepancy of their ideas. Hence it is, that no coherent system of belief seems capable of being extracted from their wild eulogies and legends; and if he who attempts to study their religion is disposed, like themselves, to build his faith on his imagination, he meets with little obstruction from the stubborn precision of Hindu expressions and tenets.

Nothing is more curious than to trace the ideas concerning Divine power which the natural faculties of our race suggest to them at the various stages of their career. In the very rude and imperfect state in which society originated, the human mind can hardly so far enlarge its views as to draw conclusions respecting the universe. Those operations and events of nature, which more immediately concern mankind, and on which their happiness and misery depend, no doubt engage their eager curiosity. The causes of light and darkness, of drought and rain, of the thunder, of the hurricane, of the earthquake, suggest many an anxious inquiry; but to put all the objects of nature, and all the changes which they undergo, into one group of ideas, and to ask whence did the whole proceed, seems to be an operation too complicated, and too far removed from the ordinary track of his ideas, to be one of the first that takes place in the mind of a barbarian.

With regard to that other class of questions, which more easily occur to him, his nature very readily suggests an answer. Prior to experience and instruction, there is a propensity in the imagination to endow with life whatever we behold in motion; or, in general, whatever appears to be the cause of any event. A child beats the inanimate object, by which it has been hurt, and caresses that by which it has been gratified. The sun, which is the cause of day, the savage regards as a beneficent deity. A spirit resides in the storm; the woods and the waters are peopled with divinities; there is a god of plenty, and a god of want; a god of war, and a god of peace; a god of health, and a god of sickness. That this may be considered as a correct outline of the first religion which is suggested to the human mind, the laws of human nature, and the ideas which are found to prevail among rude tribes, appear sufficiently to evince.

But men are not long in making another step in their religious progress. Having made for themselves a theory with respect to the cause of the events which affect them, the origin too of the things which they perceive attracts their curiosity; and from asking the cause, first of one great object, and then of another, they come at last to put the general question, what is the cause and origin of the whole? There are very few, therefore, even among the most barbarous nations, who have not made an attempt to account for the origin of the universe, and in whose religious ideas some species of cosmogony is not involved. But, in answering the question respecting the origin of the universe, it is impossible that men should not be guided by their previous ideas. It follows, that among the divinities, whom they already adored, He, whom they regarded as the most powerful, should be selected as the Maker of the world. Were they placed in circumstances of tolerable tranquillity, this potent God would probably be the sun; were they a people almost constantly plunged in the horrors of war, the god of arms would naturally be their chief divinity. Hence we see that in many nations of Asia, who at an early period seem to have been placed in favourable circumstances, the sun was supreme among the gods, and the great principle of the universe; among the turbulent and warlike tribes who inhabited the north of Europe, Odin, the god of war, was the supreme deity, and author of all things.

The Hindus had made considerable progress beyond the first and lowest stage of human society. It seems common, however, to retain for a long time the ideas which are then implanted; and, rather than eradicate the old to make of them a heterogeneous compound with the new. The Greeks and the Romans did not reject their Jupiter, and Mars, their gods of the mountains, trees, and rivers, when they rose to more comprehensive views of the universe; they only endeavoured to accommodate to these primary conceptions their new apprehensions and conclusions. In like manner, the Hindus have still their Indra, or the god of the firmament, Varuna, or the god of the waters, Rembha, the goddess of love; in the whole, a long and splendid catalogue of thirty-three crore.452

We have translations from the Hindu books of several passages containing accounts of the creation.453 They differ from one another very widely in the minor forms and circumstances; but strongly resemble in the general character, and in the principal ideas. That contained in the sacred volume which bears the name of Menu may be taken as a standard, being more full and circumstantial than any of those which are given us from the Vedas; derived from a work of equal authority with the Vedas themselves, and exhibiting, as drawn up at a later period, the improvement, if any, which the ideas of the people had acquired. It is all vagueness and darkness, incoherence, inconsistency, and confusion. It is one of the most extravagant of all specimens of discourse without ideas. The fearless propensity of a rude mind to guess where it does not know, never exhibited itself in more fantastic and senseless forms.454

Beside accounts of what creation was, we have accounts of the mode in which the Hindu divinity performed the creation. If a man possessing refined and exalted notions of the Divine Nature were to describe the great work of creation, he would have the clearest conviction of his own incompetence; and, as Moses, he would attempt no more than by a few strokes to convey an idea of the magnitude of the task, and of the power and wisdom of him who performed it. If far removed from this degree of knowledge and reflection, he will enter without hesitation upon a minute and detailed description both of the plan, and of its execution. If, however, the society in which he lives has attained any considerable improvement, the process which he conceives will indicate some portion of human wisdom; will, at least, be such as an instructed member of that society, had he infinite power imparted to him, would devise for himself. On the other hand, if a description of the creation presents no idea but what is fantastic, wild, and irrational; if it includes not even a portion of that design and contrivance which appear in the ordinary works of man; if it carries the common analogies of production, in animal and vegetable life, to the production of the universe, we cannot be mistaken in ascribing it to a people, whose ideas of the Divine Being were grovelling.

“The self-existing power,” says Menu, “having willed to produce various beings, first with a thought created the waters.” This is not a despicable conception: but what succeeds? “He placed in these waters a productive seed.” This is one of those analogies to the growth of a plant or an animal which are generally the foundation of the cosmogony of a rude people. What next? The seed becomes an egg; which is a very extraordinary product; a wonderful course, too, for the self-existing power to follow in the formation of the universe. The other steps are not less amazing. In this egg the divine being deposited himself, and there he lay, in a state of inactivity, a whole year of the Creator, that is, according to the Hindus, 1,555,200,000,000 solar years of mortals.455 At the end of this astonishing period he caused by his thought the egg to divide itself, and was himself born in the form of Brahma, the great forefather of all spirits;456 thus, “from That-Which-is, the first cause, was produced the divine male, famed in all worlds, under the appellation of Brahma.”457 This is celebrated in Hindu books as the great transformation of the Divine Being, from neuter to masculine, for the purpose of creating worlds; and under this masculine form of Brahma it was that he effected the rest of creation. The Hindus believe that he was engaged in it for no less than 17,064,000 years.458 Of the two divisions of the egg from which he had just been freed, he framed the heaven above, the earth beneath, and in the midst the subtle ether, the eight regions, and the permanent receptacle of waters. The creation of mind is next described; but this will be more conveniently considered when we come to appreciate the notions of the Hindus in relation to thought. The creation however of man, or at least of the Hindus, is worthy of our particular regard. “That the human race might be multiplied, He caused the Brahmen to proceed from his mouth, the Cshatriya from his arm, the Vaisya from his thigh, and the Sudra from his foot.” The analogy of ordinary descent is again the foundation of this fantastic imagination; and the Hindu could picture to himself the production of a human being, even by the Deity, only in the way of a species of birth. This analogy leads to a still more extravagant conceit for the creation of other races of men, and living creatures. As if “The Mighty Power” could not produce them by his male virtue alone, “He divided his own substance, and became half male, half female. By this female the male half produced Viraj, a demigod and saint; Viraj, by the virtue of austere devotion, produced Menu, another demigod and saint.” Menu again, “desirous,” he says, “of giving birth to a race of men,” produced ten lords of created beings; and these lords produced at his command “seven other Menus, and deities, and the mansions of deities, and great sages, and also benevolent genii, and fierce giants, blood-thirsty savages, heavenly quiristers, nymphs and demons, huge serpents and snakes of smaller size, birds of mighty wing, and separate companions of Pitris or progenitors of mankind; lightnings and thunderbolts, clouds and coloured bows of Indra, falling meteors, earthrending vapours, comets, and luminaries of various degrees; horse-faced sylvans, apes, fish, and a variety of birds, tame cattle, deer, men, and ravenous beasts with two rows of teeth; small and large reptiles, moths, lice, fleas, and common flies, with every biting gnat, and immoveable substances of distinct sorts. Thus was this whole assemblage of moveable and stationary bodies framed by those high-minded beings.”459

But in the Hindu books we find applied to the Divinity a great variety of expressions, so elevated, that they cannot be surpassed even by those of the men who entertain the most sublime ideas of the Divine Nature. In the passage immediately quoted from Menu, he is described as the sole self-existing power, the soul of all beings, he whom the mind alone can perceive, who exists from eternity, and whom no being can comprehend. In a passage from the Brahmanda Purana, translated by Mr. Wilford, he is denominated; “The great God, the great Omnipotent, Omniscient one, the greatest in the World, the great Lord who goes through all worlds, incapable of decay.”460 In a prayer, translated by Mr. Colebrooke, from one of the Vedas, he is called, “the pure Brahme, whom none can apprehend as an object of perception, above, around, or in the midst; the God who pervades all regions, the first-born; he, prior to whom nothing was born; who became all beings, himself the Lord of creatures; he, who made the fluid sky and solid earth, who fixed the solar orb and celestial abode, whom heaven and earth mentally contemplate; the mysterious Being, in whom the universe perpetually exists, resting on that sole support; in whom this world is absorbed, from whom it issues.”461 Without multiplying instances, it may shortly be stated that human language does not supply more lofty epithets of praise than are occasionally addressed to their deities by the Hindus.

To form a true estimate of the religion of this people, it is necessary by reflection to ascertain, what those expressions in the mouth of a Brahmen really mean. We shall incur the risk of completely deceiving ourselves, if, with the experience how naturally vague and general expressions, especially in such abstract and mental subjects, convey the most different ideas, to people in different stages of society, we take the lofty expressions of devotion in Hindu books, as full and satisfactory evidence of lofty conceptions of the Divine Nature. It is well ascertained that nations, who have the lowest and meanest ideas of the Divine Being, may yet apply to him the most sounding epithets by which perfection can be expressed.

In tracing the progress of natural religion, through the different stages of intellectual acquirement, a very important fact is discovered; that language, on this subject, has a much greater tendency to improve, than ideas. It is well known how vile and degrading were the notions of the Divine Nature presented in the fictions of the Greek poets; insomuch that Plato deemed them unfit to be read;462 yet the Brahmens themselves do not surpass the Greek poets in elevated expressions concerning the Deity. Orpheus, early and rude as is the period to which his poetry relates, thus describes the celestial King; “Jupiter, the sovereign; Jupiter, the original parent of all things; and Wisdom, the first procreator; and all-delighting Love: For in the mighty frame of Jupiter all are contained: One power, one godhead: He is the great Regent of all.”463 Cæsar informs us that the Druids among the ancient Gauls delivered many doctrines concerning the nature of the universe, and the powers of the immortal gods;464 and it is remarkable that the Greeks and the Romans were forcibly struck with the similarity between the ideas of the Druids, and those of the Brahmens of India, the Magi of Persia, the Chaldeans of Assyria, and the priests of Egypt.465 The creed of the ancient Germans, as we are informed by Tacitus, was, “that God is the Ruler of all: other things are to him subject and obedient.”466 In the ancient Scandinavian mythology, the Supreme God was described, as, “The author of every thing that existeth; the eternal, the ancient, the living and awful Being, the searcher into concealed things; the Being that never changeth.”467 On the statue of the Egyptian goddess Isis was this inscription; “I am every thing past, every thing present, and every thing to come.”468 The Deity was described by Zoroaster as “The First, the Incorruptible, the Eternal, without generation, without dissolution, without a parallel, the charioteer of all which is good, inaccessible to bribes, the best of the good, the wisest of the wise.”469 The Getes asserted their deity Zamolxis to be the true God, that besides him there was none other, and that to him they went after death, being endowed with spirits immortal.470 Even the rude tribes of America, wandering naked in the woods, “appear,” says Robertson, “to acknowledge a Divine Power to be the maker of the world, and the disposer of all events. They denominate him the Great Spirit.”471 Thus it appears how commonly the loftiest expressions are used concerning the gods, by people whose conceptions of them are, confessedly, mean.472

This important fact, however remarkable, is founded on principles of very powerful operation in the nature of man. The timid barbarian, who is agitated by fears respecting the unknown events of nature, feels the most incessant and eager desire to propitiate the Being on whom he believes them to depend. His mind works, with laborious solicitude, to discover the best means of recommending himself. He naturally takes counsel from his own sentiments and feelings; and as nothing to his rude breast is more delightful than adulation, he is led by a species of instinct to expect the favour of his god from praise and flattery. In an uncultivated mind, how strong this sentiment is, a very superficial knowledge of human nature may convince us. Mr. Foster, in his Travels over land from India, was overtaken by a storm in the Caspian Sea; and remarks that during the danger “every man was imploring the Divine interposition in his own manner and language.” “But my attention,” says he, “was chiefly attracted by a Persian. His ejaculations were loud and fervent; and the whole force of his prayers was levelled at Ali; on whom he bestowed every title that could denote sanctity or military prowess. He called on him, by the name of the Friend of God; the Lord of the Faithful; the Brandisher of the invincible sword; to look down on his servant, and shield him from the impending evil. Thinking also to obtain the more grace with the father, he would occasionally launch out into the praises of his two sons.”473

When the belief is once admitted that the Deity is pleased with panegyric, it is evident to what length the agitated and ignorant votary will speedily be carried. Whatever may be the phrases with which he begins; in a short time, the ardour of his fears incites him to invent new and stronger; as likely to prove more agreeable and prevalent. Even these, by a short use, become familiar to his mind. When they begin to be stale and feeble, he is again prompted to a new invention, and to more violent exaggerations.

Exhausting quickly the powers of his language, he has other expedients in store. The god, on whom his eulogies have been lavished, is that one, among the invisible powers, on whom his interests seem more immediately to depend: This deity is at first panegyrised on account of those operations alone which belong to his own department: The sun is originally applauded only as the Regent of day: the bountiful giver of light, and of all its attendant blessings! But when panegyric on this subject is exhausted, the unwearied adorer opens a new fountain of adulation: The operations of some divinity, whose department most nearly resembles that of the favourite deity, affords some circumstance which, it is imagined, might do honour to that patron god: It is accordingly, as a very artful expedient, immediately detracted from the one, and ascribed to the other: No sooner is the novelty of this new attribute decayed, than the prerogative of some other divinity is invaded, and the great object of worship is invested with a new power or function of nature: This, it is evident, is a fertile discovery: The votary has many articles to add to his list of powers and functions, before he exhausts the provinces of the whole of the gods. He proceeds incessantly, however; adding to the works and dominions of the great divinity one province after another, till at last he bestows upon him the power and functions of all the gods. He is now the supreme deity, and all the rest are subordinate. He is the king of the celestial powers; or, what is still more sublime, their author or father; He from whom their very being and powers are derived. They still, however, retain their ancient departments: and he who was god of the winds remains the god of the winds: he who was god of the waters remains god of the waters. But they are no longer independant deities; they have now a superior, and are regarded in the light of his ministers or agents.

The ingenuity of fear and desire sometimes invents a higher strain of flattery still. The power, which is delegated to so many extraordinary beings, is regarded as a deduction from that which might otherwise be wielded by the supreme. And happy is the man, who first imagines he can inform the Divinity, that no such division and diminution of his power exist: That those supposed agents or ministers are not in reality beings endowed with the powers of the Almighty; that they are those powers themselves; the different modes in which he manifests himself. After this, he is the one God He is all in all: From him every thing begins, in him every thing terminates: He unites all possible attributes: Like time, he has no beginning and shall have no end: All power belongs to him, all wisdom, and all virtue. Such is the progress of the language, not of knowledge and cultivated reason, but of the rude and selfish passions of a barbarian; and all these high and sounding epithets are invented by men whose ideas of the divine nature are mean, ridiculous, gross, and disgusting.

Some of the most enlightened of the Europeans who have made inquiries concerning the ideas and institutions of the Hindus, have been induced, from the lofty epithets occasionally applied to the gods, to believe and to assert that this people had a refined and elevated religion. Nothing is more certain than that such language is far from being proof of such a religion. Yet ingenious men, from whom we have largely derived instruction, appear to have thought that no other proof was requisite; and, as on this evidence they adopted the opinion themselves, thought that others ought to receive it on the same foundation.474

Since the language employed by any people is a very fallacious test of the ideas which they entertain concerning the Divine Nature, it is necessary to investigate the circumstances, in their religious practice or belief, which enable us in any degree to define their vague expressions. Those circumstances are few; but their evidence determinate. They are the operations ascribed to the Divinity, the services reputed agreeable to him, and the laws which he is understood to have ordained. If these correspond with the ideas of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, we may believe with certainty that the sublime language is the expression of corresponding conceptions; on the other hand, where those operations, services, and laws, are in the highest degree unworthy of a perfect nature, we may be fully assured, that the sublime language is altogether without a meaning, the effect of flattery, and the meanest of passions; and that it is directly suggested, not by the most lofty, but by the most grovelling and base, ideas of the Divine Nature.

Of the host of Hindu Divinities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva are the most exalted. Other nations have most frequently carried on the applause of one favourite deity, till they bestowed upon him alone all power in heaven and earth: The Hindus have distributed the creation and government of the universe among those three, denominating Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the destroyer.

Of the highest scene of operation in which the Divine Being can be contemplated by mortals, the creation of the universe, the conception, formed by the Hindus, is so far from corresponding with high and noble ideas of the creating power, that it is consistent only with the meanest. This itself is a criterion of a religious system from which there is no appeal.

Of the peculiar functions of Vishnu and Siva no determinate conception appears to have been formed. They are two beings of mighty power, by whom great actions are performed; but there is no distinct separation of their provinces. Whenever indeed we seek to ascertain the definite and precise ideas of the Hindus in religion, the subject eludes our grasp. All is loose, vague, wavering, obscure, and inconsistent. Their expressions point at one time to one meaning, and another time to another meaning;475 and their wild fictions, to use the language of Mr. Hume, seem rather the playsome whimsies of monkeys in human shape, than the serious asseverations of a being who dignifies himself with the name of rational.476 Vishnu is not unfrequently employed in the acts which properly belong only to a destructive power; and Siva is so far from answering to the title bestowed upon him, that he is a divinity hardly less beneficent than Vishnu himself.

In the conception which the Hindus have formed of the government of the world, the visible agency of the Deity is peculiarly required. “I have passed,” says the preserving God, “many births. Although I am not in my nature subject to birth or decay, and am the lord of all created beings, yet having command over my own nature, I am made evident by my own power; and as often as there is a decline of virtue, and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world, I make myself evident; and thus I appear from age to age, for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of virtue.”477 “Aty Sechen himself,” says another sacred book, “all knowing as he is, could not number the metamorphoses and different forms under which Vishnu has appeared for the salvation of the universe.”478 Such are the Hindu ideas of the manner in which the power of the Divine Being is exerted in the government of the universe.

Of these visible appearances or incarnations of the divinity, ten, known in the Hindu mythology under the name of avatars, are peculiarly distinguished. The first, which is denominated the avatar of the fish, is thus described.479 At the close of the last calpa, there was a general destruction, occasioned by the sleep of Brahma; his creatures in different worlds being drowned in a vast ocean. The strong demon Hagyagriva came near him and stole the Vedas, which had flowed from his lips. When the preserver of the universe discovered this deed, he took the shape of a minute fish, called sap’hari. A holy king named Satyavrata then reigned. One day, as he was making a libation in the river Critamala, the little fish said to him, How canst thou leave me in this river water, when I am too weak to resist the monsters of the stream who fill me with dread? Satyavrata placed it under his protection in a small vase full of water; but in a single night its bulk was so increased, that it could not be contained in the jar, and thus again addressed the prince: I am not pleased with living in this little vase; make me a large mansion where I may dwell in comfort. The king successively placed it in a cistern, in a pool, and in a lake, for each of which it speedily grew too large, and supplicated for a more spacious place of abode; after which he threw it into the sea, when the fish again addressed him: Here the horned sharks and other monsters of great strength will devour me; thou shouldest not, O valiant man, leave me in this ocean. Thus repeatedly deluded by the fish, who had addressed him with gentle words, the king said, Who art thou that beguilest me in that assumed shape. Never before have I seen or heard of so prodigious an inhabitant of the waters, who like thee has filled up, in a single day, a lake 100 leagues in circumference. Surely thou art the great God whose dwelling was on the waves. Salutation and praise to thee, O first male, the lord of creation, of preservation, of destruction! Thou art the highest object, O supreme ruler, of us thy adorers, who piously seek thee. All thy delusive descents in this world give existence to various beings; yet I am anxious to know for what cause that shape has been assumed by thee. The lord of the universe, loving the pious man, and intending to preserve him from the sea of destruction, caused by the depravity of the age, thus told him how he was to act: In seven days from the present time, O thou tamer of enemies, the three worlds will be plunged in an ocean of death; but in the midst of the destroying waves, a large vessel, sent by me for thy use, shall stand before thee. Then shalt thou take all medicinal herbs, all the variety of seeds; and, accompanied by seven saints, encircled by pairs of all brute animals, thou shalt enter the spacious ark, and continue in it secure from the flood on one immense ocean, without light except the radiance of thy companions. When the ship shall be agitated by an impetuous wind, thou shalt fasten it with a large sea serpent on my horn; for I will be near thee, drawing the vessel with thee and thy attendants. Thus instructed, the pious king waited humbly for the appointed time. The sea, overwhelming its shores, deluged the whole earth; and it was soon perceived to be augmented by showers from immense clouds. He, still meditating on the divine command, and conforming to the divine directions, entered the ship; when the god appeared again distinctly on the vast ocean in the form of a fish, blazing like gold, extending a million of leagues, with one stupendous horn, on which the king, as he had before been commanded, tied the ship with a cable made of a vast serpent. Afterwards the god, rising, together with Brahma, from the destructive deluge, which was abated, slew the demon Hagyagriva.

Such are the operations in the government of the universe which the religious ideas of the Hindus lead them to ascribe to the divine Being. The second appearance or avatar of the Preserver is of the same character, and suggested by similar views. Hirinacheren, a malignant and destructive giant, who delighted in afflicting the earth, at last rolled it up into a shapeless mass, and plunged down with it into the abyss. On this occasion there issued from the side of Brahma, a being shaped like a boar, white and exceedingly small, which in the space of one hour grew to the size of an elephant of the largest magnitude, and remained in the air. This being, Brahma discovered to be Vishnu, who had assumed a body and become visible. Suddenly it uttered a sound like the loudest thunder, and the echo reverberated, and shook all the corners of the universe. Shaking the full-flowing mane which hung down his neck on both sides, and erecting the humid hairs of his body, he proudly displayed his two most exceedingly white tusks: then rolling round his wine-coloured eyes, and erecting his tail, he descended from the region of the air, and plunged head foremost into the water. The whole body of water was convulsed by the motion, and began to rise in waves, while the guardian spirit of the sea, being terrified, began to tremble for his domain, and cry out for quarter and mercy. At length, the power of the omnipotent having divided the water, and arriving at the bottom, he saw the earth lying, a mighty and barren stratum; then he took up the ponderous globe (freed from the water) and raised it high on his tusk: one would say it was a beautiful lotos blossoming on the tip of his tusk. In a moment, with one leap, coming to the surface, by the all-directing power of the Omnipotent Creator, he spread it, like a carpet, on the face of the water, and then vanished from the sight of Brahma.480
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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Part 2 of 3

Of the third avatar we have so particular and remarkable a description, that it merits uncommon regard.481 The soors, a species of angels, and all the glorious host of heaven, sat on the summit of Mount Meru, a fictitious mountain, highly celebrated in the books of the Hindus, meditating the discovery of the Amreeta, that is, being translated, the water of immortality: when Narayan482 said unto Brahma, Let the ocean, as a pot of milk, be churned by the united labour of the soors and asoors; and when the mighty waters have been stirred up, the Amreeta shall be found. A great mountain, named Mandar, was the instrument with which the operation was to be performed; but the dews483 being unable to remove it, they had recourse to Vishnu and Brahma. By their direction, the king of the serpents lifted up that sovereign of mountains, with all its forests and inhabitants; and the soors and asoors having obtained permission of the king of the tortoises, it was placed for support on his back, in the midst of the ocean. Then the soors and asoors, using the serpent Vasookee for the rope, the asoors pulling by the head, and the soors by the tail, began to churn the ocean;484 while there issued from the mouth of the serpent, a continued stream of fire, and smoke, and wind; and the roaring of the ocean, violently agitated with the whirling of the mountain, was like the bellowing of a mighty cloud. Meanwhile a violent conflagration was raised on the mountain, by the concussion of its trees and other substances, and quenched by a shower which the lord of the firmament poured down; whence an heterogeneous stream of the concocted juices of various trees and plants, ran down into the briny flood. It was from this milk-like stream, produced from those juices, and a mixture of melted gold, that the soors obtained their immortality. The waters of the ocean being now assimilated with those juices, were converted into milk, and a species of butter was produced, when the churning powers became fatigued; but Narayan endued them with fresh strength, and they proceeded with great ardour to stir that butter of the ocean. First, arose from it the moon; next, Sree, the goddess of fortune; then the goddess of wine, and the white horse, Oochisrava; afterwards the jewel kowstoobh; the tree of plenty; and the cow that granted every heart's desire. Then the dew Dhanwantaree, in human shape, came forth, holding in his hand a white vessel filled with the immortal juice, amreeta; which, when the asoors beheld, they raised their tumultuous voices, and each of them clamorously exclaimed, This of right is mine! But as they continued to churn the ocean more than enough, a deadly poison issued from its bed, confounding the three regions of the world with its mortal stench, until Siva, at the word of Brahma, swallowed the fatal drug to save mankind. In the mean while a violent jealousy and hatred, on account of the amreeta, and the goddess Sree, sprung up in the bosoms of the asoors. But Narayan, assuming the form of a beautiful female, stood before them, whose minds becoming fascinated by her presence, and deprived of reason, they seized the amreeta and gave it unto her. But a dreadful battle arose between the soors and asoors, in which Narayan, quitting the female figure, assisted the soors. The elements and powers of nature were thrown into confusion by the conflict; but with the mighty aid of Narayan, and his weapon chacra, which of itself, unguided even by a hand, performed miraculous exploits, the soors obtained the victory, and the mountain Mandar was carried back to its former station. The soors guarded the amreeta with great care; and the god of the firmament, with all his immortal hands, gave the water of life unto Narayan, to keep it for their use. This was the third manifestation of the Almighty, in the preservation and government of the world.

The fourth I shall describe with greater brevity. Hirinacheren, the gigantic ruler, who rolled up the earth, and plunged with it to the bottom of the abyss, left a younger brother Hirinakassup, who succeeded him in his kingdom, and refused to do homage to Vishnu, but persecuted his own son, who was an ardent votary of that god. I, said he, am lord of all this visible world. The son replied, that Vishnu had no fixed abode, but was present every where. Is he, said his father, in that pillar? Then let him come forth; and rising from his seat, he struck the pillar with his foot; upon which Vishnu, bursting from it, with a body like a man, but a head like a lion, tore Hirinakassup in pieces, and placed his son upon the throne.485

In the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh avatars, the Preserving Power appeared in human shapes for the destruction of impious and ferocious kings, performing many heroic and many miraculous deeds. But, after the examples which have already been given, a particular description of these extravagant legends would poorly compensate the toil of a perusal. The eighth, however, is one of the most celebrated of all the incarnations of Vishnu. He was born the son of Vasudeva and Devaci, of the royal family of Cansa, and obtained the name of Crishna. But as it had been predicted to Cansa, that one born of those parents would occasion his destruction, whence he had decreed the death of all their children, Crishna was secretly withdrawn, and brought up in the family of a shepherd or herdsman. Many and wonderful were the transactions of his childhood, in which the wanton pranks of the mischievous, but amiable boy, are not less distinguished, than the miraculous exploits of the god. When he grew up to youth, the indulgence of licentious love was his great occupation and enjoyment. It is a small part of the picture which I can, or which I need, to expose to view. The scenes with the young shepherdesses are painted by the Hindus in all the glowing colours of oriental poetry. A passage from a hymn, or divine song, translated by Sir William Jones, is in the following words: “With a garland of wild flowers, descending even to the yellow mantle that girds his azure limbs, distinguished by smiling cheeks, and by earrings that sparkle as he plays, Heri486 exults in the assemblage of amorous damsels. One of them presses him with her swelling breast, while she warbles with exquisite melody. Another, affected by a glance from his eye, stands meditating on the lotos of his face. A third, on pretence of whispering a secret in his ear, approaches his temples and kisses them with ardour. One seizes his mantle, and draws him towards her, pointing to the bower on the banks of Yamuna, where elegant vanjulahs interweave their branches. He applauds another who dances in the sportive circle, whilst her bracelets ring, as she beats time with her palms. Now he caresses one, and kisses another, smiling on a third with complacency; and now he chases her whose beauty has most allured him. Thus the wanton Heri frolics, in the season of sweets, among the maids of Vraja, who rush to his embraces, as if he were pleasure itself assuming a human form; and one of them, under a pretext of hymning his divine perfections, whispers in his ear: Thy lips, my beloved, are nectar.”487 I shall select but another instance, which is from the translation before us of the Bhagavat. “Crishna, finding himself on the banks of the Yamuna,488 began to play on his pastoral flute. All the shepherdesses, filled with desire, ran in crowds to hear his enchanting sounds. Crishna, beholding them burning with desire, informed them, that it was contrary to the order established in the world, to quit their houses to seek the embraces of a lover. He added that their families might thus, if their husbands were jealous, be thrown into disorder, and disgrace come upon themselves. He advised them accordingly to return. The women replied, that their passion, it was true, were it for an ordinary man, would be criminal; but desiring to unite themselves with the absolute master of all things, they could not believe that such an impulse was any other than meritorious. In regard to their husbands, they could have no rights which tended to the exclusion of God. Crishna, who saw the innocence of their hearts, graciously gave them entire satisfaction; and by a miracle continually renewed, in all that multitude of women, each was convinced that she alone enjoyed the Deity, and that he never quitted her an instant for the embraces of another.”489 “Crishna,” says Sir William Jones, “continues to this hour the darling god of the Indian women. The sect of Hindus,” he adds, “who adore him with enthusiastic and almost exclusive devotion, have broached a doctrine which they maintain with eagerness, and which seems general in these provinces;490 that he was distinct from all the avatars, who had only a portion of his divinity; while Crishna was the person of Vishnu himself in a human form.”491 “At a more advanced age,” continues Sir William, “he put to death his cruel enemy, Cansa; and having taken under his protection the king Yudhisht’hir and the other Pandus, who had been grievously oppressed by the Curus, and their tyrannical chief, he kindled the war described in the great epic poem, entitled the Mahabharat, at the prosperous conclusion of which he returned to his heavenly seat in Vaicont’ha, having left the instructions comprised in the Gita with his disconsolate friend Arjoon.”492 He was afterwards slain, being wounded by an arrow in the foot.493

The ninth incarnation of Vishnu, and the last, yet vouchsafed, of the Divine appearances, was in the person of Buddha. The object of this avatar is described in the following verse of a Hindu poet: “Thou blamest, Oh wonderful, the whole Veda, when thou seest, O kind-hearted, the slaughter of cattle prescribed for sacrifice, O Cesava,494 assuming the body of Buddha. Be victorious, O Heri,495 lord of the universe!”496 But though Buddha is by the Hindus, regarded as a manifestation of the Divine Being, the sect of Buddhists are regarded as heretical, and are persecuted by the Brahmens. It is conjectured that, at one time, a great number of them had been compelled to fly from the country, and spread their tenets in various directions.497 The religion of Buddha is now found to prevail over the greater part of the East; in Ceylon, in the farther peninsula, in Thibet, in China, and even as far as Japan.498 “The tenth avatar,” says Sir William Jones, “we are told is yet to come, and is expected to appear mounted (like the crowned conqueror in the Apocalypse) on a white horse, with a cimeter blazing like a comet, to mow down all incorrigible and impenitent offenders who shall then be on earth.”499

It will require the addition of but a few passages more of this wild mythology, to convey a satisfactory idea of the actions and qualities which the Hindus ascribe to their supreme deities. “It is related,” says Mr. Wilford,500 “in the Scanda,501 that when the whole earth was covered with water, and Vishnu lay extended asleep in the bosom of Devi,502 a lotos arose from his navel. Brahma sprang from that flower, and looking round without seeing any creature on the boundless expanse, imagined himself to be the first-born, and entitled to rank above all future beings. Resolving, however, by investigation, more fully to satisfy himself, he glided down the stalk of the lotos, and finding Vishnu asleep, asked loudly who he was. I am the first-born, answered Vishnu, waking: and as Brahma contradicted him, they had an obstinate battle, till Mahadeva, or Siva, pressed between them in great wrath, saying, It is I who am truly the first-born: but I will resign my pretensions to either of you who shall be able to reach and behold the summit of my head, or the soles of my feet. Brahma instantly ascended; but having fatigued himself to no purpose in the regions of immensity, yet loth to abandon his claim, he returned to Mahadeva, and declared that he had attained the crown of his head, calling, as his witness, the first born cow. For this union of pride and falsehood, the angry god ordained, that no sacred rites should be performed to Brahma. When Vishnu returned, he acknowledged that he had not been able to see the feet of Mahadeva, confessed him to be the first-born among the gods, and entitled to rank above them all.”

After a passage such as this, who would expect to find the following? “The patriarch Atterien retired into a forest, and there performed rigorous devotion, having for his nourishment nothing but the wind, and being exposed to all the injuries of the atmosphere. One day he addressed his vows to the Eternal in these words: O thou who hast created, and who preservest the universe; O thou by whom it is destroyed; give me the knowledge of thyself, and grant me the vision of thee! Then a fire issuing from the crown of the votary's head, made all the gods tremble, and they had recourse to Vishnu, to Siva, and to Brahma. Those three divinities, completely armed and mounted, accompanied by Lacshmi, Guenga, and Seraswati, their wives, presented themselves before the saint. Prostrating himself, Atterien worshipped them, and uttered the following words: O you three Lords, know that I recognise only one God: inform me which of you is the true divinity, that I may address to him alone my vows and adorations! To this supplication the three Gods replied; Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between us: what to you appears such is only by semblance: the Single Being appears under three forms; by the acts of creation, of preservation, and destruction: but he is One.”503 Yet this “Single” Being, this One God, is thus again represented, a few pages after, in the same Purana: “Even Brahma, finding himself alone with his daughter, who was full of charms and knowledge, conceived for her a criminal passion.”504 Thus are we taught by the Hindus themselves to interpret the lofty phrases which the spirit of exaggeration and flattery so frequently puts into their mouths.

Of the First-born, Mahadeva, or the One, Eternal God, under one of his forms, we have the following sacred story. He was playing one day at dice with Parvati,505 when they quarrelled, and parted in wrath to different regions. They severally performed rigid acts of devotion, but the fires which they kindled blazed so vehemently as to threaten a general conflagration. The devas,506 in great alarm, hastened to Brahma, who led them to Mahadeva, and supplicated him to recall his consort; but the wrathful deity only answered, that she must come by her own free choice. They accordingly dispatched Ganga, the river goddess, who prevailed on Parvati to return to him, on condition that his love for her should be restored. The celestial mediators then employed Camadeva,507 who wounded Siva with one of his flowery arrows; but the angry divinity reduced him to ashes with a flame from his eye. Parvati soon after presented herself before him in the form of a Cirati, or daughter of a mountaineer, and seeing him enamoured of her, resumed her own shape.508 Of the various passages of a similar nature presented to us in the history of this God, I shall content myself with another, extracted by Mr. Wilford from the Scanda Purana. “There had subsisted,” says he,509 “for a long time, some animosity between Brahma and Mahadeva in their mortal shapes; and the latter, on account of his bad conduct, which is fully described in the Puranas, had it appears given much uneasiness to Swayambhuva, and Satarupa. For he was libidinous, going about stark-naked, with a large club in his hand. Be this as it may, Mahadeva, who was the eldest, saw his claim as such totally disregarded, and Brahma set up in his room. This intrusion the latter wanted to support; but made use of such lies as provoked Mahadeva to such a point, that he cut off one of his heads in his divine form.” Such are the ideas which the Hindus entertain of the actions and character of their supreme deities; on whom, notwithstanding, they lavish all the most lofty epithets of divinity which human language can supply.

This theology affords a remarkable instance of that progress in exaggeration and flattery which I have described as the genius of rude religion. As the Hindus, instead of selecting one god, to whom they assigned all power in heaven and in earth, distributed the creation and administration of the universe among three divinities, they divided themselves into sects; and some attached themselves more particularly to one deity, some to another.510

Presently the usual consequence appeared. Whichever of the three gods any votary selected for his peculiar patron, he expected to perform to him one of the most agreeable of all possible services, by representing him as superior to the other two. This we find to have been the practice, invariably, and enthusiastically. In a passage from the Scanda Purana, one of the sacred books in honour of Siva, we have seen by what legends his votaries endeavour to elevate him above Brahma, and Vishnu; while he cuts off the head of the one for contesting with him the supremacy, and has it expressly yielded up to him by the other. It is not, however, sufficient that the favourite god should be only superior to the rest; whatever honour is derived from their actions, that too must be claimed for him; and he is asserted to be himself the author of all their achievements.

A still higher strain of flattery succeeds. Not only must he absorb their actions, it is accounted still nobler if he can be asserted to absorb even themselves; if Siva, for example, can be affirmed, not only to be Siva, and to be at once creator, preserver, and destroyer, but can be declared to be Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva themselves. Beyond even this, a step remains. In the same manner as he absorbs the gods, he is finally made to absorb every thing. He is asserted to be the universe itself. He is then all in all. We shall find this process pursued with the Hindu divinities, one after another. In another sacred book,511 dedicated to Siva, that god is made to declare, “I have always been, and I always am, and I always will be. There is no second of whom I can say that I am he, and that he is I. I am the within of all the withins. I am in all surfaces. Whatever is I am; and whatever is not I am. I am Brahma; and I am also Brahme; and I am the causing cause. Whatever is in the east I am; and whatever is in the west I am; and whatever is in the south I am; and whatever is in the north I am. Whatever is below I am; and whatever is above I am. I am man, and not man, and woman. I am the truth; I am the ox; and I am all other animated beings. I am more ancient than all. I am the king of kings. And I am in all the great qualities. I am the perfect being. Whatever has been, Rudra512 is; and whatever is he is; and whatever shall be he is. Rudra is life, and is death; and is the past, present, and future; and is all worlds.”513 But if the votaries of Siva, with exaggerating devotion, thus infinitely exalt him above all; the same, or, if possible, still greater honours, do the adorers of Vishnu lavish upon that divinity. “Let it not be thought,” says the Bhagavat, “that Vishnu is only one of the three divinities, or triple powers. Know that he is the principle of all. It is he who created the universe by his productive power; it is he who supports all by his preserving power; it is he, in fine, who destroys all by his destructive power. He creates under the form of Brahma, and destroys under that of Siva. The productive power is more excellent than the destructive, and the preserving more excellent than the productive. To the name of Vishnu, therefore, is attached the pre-eminence, since the title of preserver or saviour is peculiarly attributed to him.”514 In the Bhagvat-Geeta, Crishna is thus addressed; “O mighty being! who, greater than Brahma, art the prime creator! eternal god of gods! the world's mansion! thou art the incorruptible being distinct from all things transient! Thou art before all gods, and the supreme supporter of the universe! Thou knowest all things! By thee, O infinite form! the universe was spread abroad. Thou art Vayoo the god of winds, Agnee the god of fire, Varoon the god of oceans, Sasanka the moon, Prajapatee the god of nations! Reverence be unto thee before and behind, reverence be unto thee on all sides, O thou who art all in all! Infinite is thy power and thy glory! Thou includest all things, wherefore thou art all things.”515 In a Sanscrit inscription taken from a stone at Buddha Gaya, Buddha is thus addressed; “Reverence be unto thee, O god, in the form of the god of mercy; the lord of all things, the guardian of the universe. Thou art Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa.516 Thou art lord of the universe! Thou art, under the proper form of all things, moveable and immoveable, the possessor of the whole!”517

Among the numerous expressions of panegyric and adoration which the Hindus apply to their divinities, none seem to have made a deeper impression upon some of the most intelligent of our English inquirers, than the epithet One. This has so far prevailed as to impress them with a belief that the Hindus had a refined conception of the unity of the Divine Nature. Yet it seems very clear that the use of such an epithet is but a natural link in that chain of unmeaning panegyric which distinguishes the religion of ignorant men. When one divinity has been made to engross the powers of all the rest, it is the necessary termination of this piece of flattery, to denominate him The One. Oriental scholars ought moreover to have reflected that one is an epithet of very common, and vague application in the languages of Asia; and is by no means a foundation whereon to infer among the Hindus any conception analogous to that which we denote by the term unity of God. The translation of the Institutes of Menu affords us a very satisfactory example; “Then only is a man perfect when he consists of three persons united, his wife, himself, and his son; and thus have learned Brahmens announced this—the husband is even One with his wife.”518 Yet surely no unity of being was supposed in this triune person, a man, his wife, and his son. Ad, we are informed by Macrobius, was among the Assyrians a word which signified one, and was a name conferred by them upon their chief divinity.519 The Babylonians applied it to their principal goddess.520 The god Rimmon, as we learn from the Bible, had the same epithet.521 Mr. Bryant says it was a sacred title among all the Eastern nations, and originally conferred upon the sun.522 Even the Greek poets, who have never been suspected of refined notions of the unity of God, employ it to profusion. It is applied to Jupiter, to Pluto, to the sun, to Dionysius.523 All the gods are affirmed to be one.524 “One power,” says the Orphic poetry, “one divinity, Jupiter is the great ruler of all.”525 Plutarch informs us that Apollo was frequently denominated the monad, or the Only One;526 and from the emperor Julian we learn, that the people of Edessa had a god whom they called Monimus, a word of the same interpretation.527 Few nations shall we find without a knowledge of the unity of the Divine Nature, if we take such expressions of it as abound in the Hindu writings for satisfactory evidence. By this token Mr. Park found it among the savages of Africa.528

In pursuance of the same persuasion, ingenious authors have laid hold of the term Brahme, or Brahm, the neuter of Brahma, the masculine name of the creator.529 This they have represented as the peculiar appellation of the one god; Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, being only names of the particular modes of divine action. But this supposition (for it is nothing more) involves the most enormous inconsistency; as if the Hindus possessed refined notions of the unity of God, and could yet conceive his modes of action to be truly set forth in the characters of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; as if the same people could at once be so enlightened as to form a sublime conception of the Divine nature, and yet so stupid as to make a distinction between the character of God and his modes of action. The parts of the Hindu writings, however, which are already before us, completely refute this gratuitous notion, and prove that Brahme is a mere unmeaning epithet of praise, applied to various gods; and no more indicative of refined notions of the unity, or any perfection of the Divine Nature, than other parts of their panegyrical devotions. We have already beheld Siva decorated with this title.530 Vishnu is denominated the supreme Brahme in the Bhagvat-Geeta.531 Nay, we find this Brahme, the great, the eternal One, the supreme soul, employed in rather a subordinate capacity. “The Great Brahm,” says Chrishna, “is my womb. In it I place my fœtus; and from it is the production of all nature. The great Brahm is the womb of all those various forms which are conceived in every natural womb, and I am the father who soweth the seed.”532 In one of the morning prayers of the Brahmens, cited from the Vedas by Mr. Colebrooke, water is denominated Brahme.533 “The sun,” says Yajnyawalcya, “is Brahme; this is a certain truth revealed in the sacred Upanishats, and in various sac’has of the Vedas. So the Bhawishya Purana, speaking of the sun: Because there is none greater than he, nor has been nor will be, therefore he is celebrated as the supreme soul in all the Vedas.”534 Air, too, receives the appellation of Brahme. Thus, says a passage in the Veda; “That which moves in the atmosphere is air, Brahme.535 Thus again; “Salutation unto thee, O air! Even thou art Brahme, present to our apprehension. Thee I will call, ‘present Brahme:’ thee I will name, ‘the right one:’ thee I will pronounce, ‘the true one.’ May that Brahme, the universal being entitled air, preserve me.”536 Food too is denominated Brahme; so is breath, and intellect, and felicity.537 Nay, it is affirmed, as part of the Hindu belief, that man himself may become Brahme; thus in the Bhagvat-Geeta Crishna declares: “A man being endowed with a purified understanding, having humbled his spirit by resolution, and abandoned the objects of the organs; who hath freed himself from passion and dislike, who worshippeth with discrimination, eateth with moderation, and is humble of speech, of body, and of mind; who preferreth the devotion of meditation, and who constantly placeth his confidence in dispassion; who is freed from ostentation, tyrannic strength, vain glory, lust, anger, and avarice; and who is exempt from selfishness, and in all things temperate, is formed for being Brahm.”538

Such are the proofs on which the opinion has been adopted that sublime principles run through the religion of the Brahmens.539 I know no supposition which can be employed to reconcile the inconsistencies, and to remove the absurdities, which we have found this opinion to involve, unless it be assumed that the legends of the Hindus are all allegorical; and though, in their literal interpretation, they may be altogether unworthy of a perfect being, that yet a recondite and enigmatical meaning may be extorted from them, which will tally with the sublime hypothesis it is wished to entertain. Undoubtedly, if we assume to ourselves the licence of giving to the Hindu mythology a meaning to suit our own views, we may form out of it not only a sublime theology, but a sublime philosophy, or any thing we please. It might, however, have been imagined that the futility, the absurdity, of these arbitrary interpretations had been too well exposed to allow them to mislead such men as some of the advocates for the allegorical sense of the Hindu scriptures. The latter Platonists, and other refiners upon the mythology of Greece and Rome, drew from it a pure system of theology, by the very same process which is adopted and recommended in regard to the fables of the Hindus. “Without a tedious detail,” says Mr. Gibbon, “the modern reader could not form a just idea of the strange allusions, the forced etymologies, the solemn trifling, and the impenetrable obscurity of these sages, who professed to reveal the system of the universe. As the traditions of Pagan mythology were variously related, the sacred interpreters were at liberty to select the most convenient circumstances; and as they translated an arbitrary cipher, they could extract from any fable any sense which was adapted to their favourite system of religion and philosophy. The lascivious form of a naked Venus was tortured into the discovery of some moral precept, or some physical truth; and the castration of Atys explained the revolution of the sun between the tropics, or the separation of the human soul from vice and error.”540 But if a condemnation thus severe can be justly pronounced upon those who allegorize the Greek and Roman mythology, what judgment should be formed of those by whom the same mode of interpretation is applied to the fables of the Hindus?541 The Egyptian religion is allowed on all hands to have possessed the same fundamental principles with the Hindu, and to have resembled it remarkably in its outward features: yet, of all the systems of superstition which were found within the Roman empire, Mr. Gibbon pronounces this to be “the most contemptible and abject.”542 There are satisfactory reasons for supposing that improvement in the language of the Brahmens, and refinement in the interpretations which they put upon their ancient writings, not to speak of what may have been done by their favourite practice of interpolation, have been suggested by the more rational and simple doctrines of Mahomet.543 The natural effect of acquaintance with a better creed is well described by Mr. Bryant. “It is to be observed,” he says, “that when Christianity had introduced a more rational system, as well as a more refined worship, among mankind; the Pagans were struck with the sublimity of its doctrines, and tried in their turns to refine. But their misfortune was, that they were obliged to abide by the theology which had been transmitted to them; and to make the history of the Gentile Gods the basis of their procedure. This brought them into immense difficulties and equal absurdities: while they laboured to solve what was inexplicable; and to remedy what was past cure. Hence we meet with many dull and elaborate sophisms even in the great Plutarch: but many more in after times, among the writers of whom I am speaking. Proclus is continually ringing the changes upon the terms νοος, νοερος, and νοητος; and explains what is really a proper name, as if it signified sense and intellect. In consequence of this, he tries to subtilize and refine all the base jargon about Saturn and Zeus: and would persuade us that the most idle and obscene legends related to the divine mind, to the eternal wisdom, and supremacy of the Deity. Thus he borrows many exalted notions from Christianity: and blends them with the basest alloy, with the dregs of Pagan mythology.”544 Such are the opinions of the greatest men respecting those attempts to allegorize a rude superstition, which some of the most celebrated of our Indian guides so vehemently recommend.545

Of the pure and elevated ideas of the Divine Nature, which are ascribed to the Hindus, or to any other people, an accurate judgment may be formed, by ascertaining the source from which they are derived. It will be allowed that just and rational views of God can be obtained from two sources alone: from revelation; or, where that is wanting, from sound reflection upon the frame and government of the universe. Wherever men are sufficiently improved to take a comprehensive survey of this magnificent system, to observe the order which prevails, the adaptation of means to ends, and the incredible train of effects which flow from the simplest causes; they may then form exalted notions of the intelligence to which all those wonders are ascribed. If all the unrevealed knowledge which we possess respecting God, the immediate object of none of our senses, be derived from his works, they whose ideas of the works are in the highest degree absurd, mean, and degrading, cannot, whatever may be the language which they employ, have elevated ideas of the author of those works. It is impossible for the stream to ascend higher than the fountain. The only question therefore is, what are the ideas which the Hindus have reached concerning the wisdom and beauty of the universe. To this the answer is clear and incontrovertible. No people, how rude and ignorant soever, who have been so far advanced as to leave us memorials of their thoughts in writing, have ever drawn a more gross and disgusting picture of the universe than what is presented in the writings of the Hindus.546 In the conception of it no coherence, wisdom, or beauty, ever appears: all is disorder, caprice, passion, contest, portents, prodigies, violence, and deformity.547 It is perfectly evident that the Hindus never contemplated the universe as a connected and perfect system, governed by general laws, and directed to benevolent ends; and it follows, as a necessary consequence, that their religion is no other than that primary worship, which is addressed to the designing and invisible beings who preside over the powers of nature, according to their own arbitrary will, and act only for some private and selfish gratification. The elevated language, which this species of worship finally assumes, is only the refinement, which flattery, founded upon a base apprehension of the divine character, ingrafts upon a mean superstition.548

If it be deemed necessary to inquire into the principle of the Hindu superstition; or which of the powers of nature, personified into gods, they exalted in the progress of hyperbolical adoration to the supremacy over the rest, and the lordship of all things; the question is resolved by copious evidence; and on this point inquirers generally coincide. Sir William Jones has written a discourse to prove that the gods of Greece, Italy, and India are the same. But it is sufficiently proved that the Greek and Roman deities ultimately resolve themselves into the sun, whose powers and provinces had been gradually enlarged, till they included those of all nature. It follows that the sun too is the principle of the Hindu religion. “We must not be surprised,” says Sir William Jones, “at finding on a close examination, that the characters of all the Pagan deities, male and female, melt into each other, and at last into one or two; for it seems a well-founded opinion, that the whole crowd of gods and goddesses, in ancient Rome and modern Varanes, mean only the powers of nature, and principally those of the sun, expressed in a variety of ways, and by a multitude of fanciful names.”549 He says too, that “the three Powers Creative, Preservative, and Destructive, which the Hindus express by the triliteral word Aum, were grossly ascribed by the first idolators to the heat, light, and flame of their mistaken divinity the sun.”550 Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, were therefore, the heat, light, and flame of the sun; and it follows as a very clear deduction, that Brahme, whose powers were shadowed forth in the characters of those three gods, was the sun himself. This conclusion, too, is established by many express texts of the Hindu scriptures, as well as by the most venerated part of the Hindu ritual. “The syllable Om (Aum) intends,” says a passage from the Veda translated by Mr. Colebrooke, “every deity: It belongs to Paramesht’hi, him who dwells in the supreme abode: it appertains to Brahme, the vast one; to Deva, god; to Adhyatma, the superintending soul. Other deities belonging to those several regions, are portions of the three gods; for they are variously named and described, on account of their different operations: but in fact there is only one deity, THE GREAT SOUL. He is called the Sun; for he is the soul of all beings. Other deities are portions of him.”551 I have already quoted a very remarkable passage from Yajnyawalcya, one of the highest of all authorities, in which the sun is directly asserted to be Brahme, and to be the supreme soul, as is declared in all the Vedas.552 Another passage translated from a Veda by Mr. Colebrooke says; “Fire is That Original Cause, the Sun is that; such too is that pure Brahme. Even he is the god who pervades all regions; he, prior to whom nothing was born; and who became all beings, himself the lord of creatures.”553 A passage in the Veda, translated by Sir William Jones, says, “That Sun, than which nothing is higher, to which nothing is equal, enlightens the sky, the earth, the lower worlds, the higher worlds, other worlds, enlightens the breast, enlightens all besides the breast.”554 In the Bhawishya, Purana, Crishna himself says; “The sun is the god of perception, the eye of the universe, the cause of day; there is none greater than he among the immortal powers. From him this universe proceeded, and in him it will reach annihilation; he is time measured by instants.” I shall add but one instance more. There is a passage in the Vedas, which is regarded by the Hindus with unspeakable veneration. It has a distinctive appellation. It is called the Gayatri; and is used upon the mightiest occasions of religion. It is denominated the holiest text in the Vedas. This extraordinary, this most sacred, most wonderful text, is thus translated by Sir William Jones; “Let us adore the supremacy of that divine Sun, the godhead, who illuminates all, who re-creates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright in our progress towards his holy seat.”555 Another version of it, and somewhat different in its phraseology, is given by Mr. Colebrooke, in his account of the first of the Vedas: “I subjoin,” says he, “a translation of the prayer which contains it, as also of the preceding one, (both of which are addressed to the sun) for the sake of exhibiting the Indian priests’ confession of faith with its context:—’This new and excellent praise of thee, O splendid, playful Sun! is offered by us to thee. Be gratified by this my speech: approach this craving mind as a fond man seeks a woman. May that sun who contemplates and looks into all worlds be our protector!—Let us Meditate on The Adorable Light of The Divine Ruler; MAY IT GUIDE OUR INTELLECTS!556 Desirous of food, we solicit the gift of the splendid Sun, who should be studiously worshipped. Venerable men, guided by the understanding, salute the divine Sun with oblations and praise.”557 Constrained by these and similar passages, Mr. Colebrooke says; “The ancient Hindu religion, as founded on the Indian scriptures, recognizes but one God, yet not sufficiently discriminating the creature from the Creator.”558 This is an important admission, from one of the most illustrious advocates of the sublimity of the Hindu religion. Had he reflected for one moment, he would have seen that between not sufficiently, and not-at-all, in this case, there can be no distinction.559
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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Part 3 of 3

In the natural progress of religion, it very frequently happens, that the spirit of adulation and hyperbole exalts admired or powerful individuals to the rank of gods. The name of the sun, or of some other divinity, is bestowed as a title, or as an epithet of inflated praise, upon a great prince, or conqueror.560 Immediately the exploits of the hero are blended with the functions of the god; and, in process of time, when the origin of the combination is forgotten, they form a compound mass of inextricable and inconsistent mythology. Mr. Colebrooke is of opinion, that in the Vedas the elements and the planets alone are deified; that the worship of heroes was introduced among the Hindus at a later period; and makes a remarkable figure in the Puranas.561

Among the false refinements to which the spirit of a rude religion gives birth, it is worthy of particular remark, that abstract terms are personified, and made to assume the character of gods: such as, Health and Sickness; War and Peace; Plenty, Famine, Pestilence. When the most general abstractions too begin to be formed, as of space, of time, of fate, of nature, they are apt to fill the mind with a kind of awe and wonder; and appear to stretch beyond all things. They are either, therefore, apprehended as new gods, and celebrated as antecedent, and superior, to all the old; or if any of the old have taken a firm possession of the mind, they are exalted to the new dignity, and receive the name of the abstract idea which most forcibly engages the attention. Thus, among the Greeks and the Romans, Fate usurped a power over all the gods. The Parsee books represent Ormusd and Ahriman, the Good Principle and the Evil Principle, sometimes as independent beings; sometimes as owing their existence to something above them; in a manner extremely resembling the language of the Sanscrit books respecting Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. At times, however, the Persians express themselves more precisely. “In the law of Zoroaster,” says one of their sacred books, “it is positively declared that God [Ormusd] was created by Time along with all other beings; and the creator is Time; and Time has no limits; it has nothing above it; it has no root; it has always been, and always will be. No one who has understanding will ever say, Whence did Time come? In that grandeur wherein Time was, there was no being who could call it creator, because it had not yet created. Afterwards it created fire and water, and from their combination proceeded Ormusd. Time was the creator, and preserved its authority over the creatures which it had produced.∗ ∗ ∗ I said in the beginning that Ormusd and Ahriman came both from Time.”562 The Brahmens, on the other hand, rather appear to have advanced the dignity of the acknowledged divinities so far as to make it embrace the extent of the abstract ideas; and to have regarded them as the abstract ideas themselves. Thus Mr. Wilkins supposes, that Brahme represents nature; Brahma, matter; Vishnu, space; Siva, time. But this is a refinement which is very sparingly, if at all, introduced in any writings of the Brahmens, which have yet been laid open to European eyes. Direct contradictions of it, though plentifully diffused, are no proof that it is not at all a Hindu doctrine. Thus Chrishna, in the Geeta, says, “I am never failing Time, the Preserver, whose face is turned on all sides;”563 a point of view in which it well agrees with the peculiar attributes of Vishnu. But in the very same discourse, Chrishna says again, “I am Time, the destroyer of mankind,”564 in which case it agrees only with the character of Siva. But it is still more remarkable that Brahma is said to have “given being to time, and the divisions of time;”565 and that space is said to have been produced from the ear of the first victim immolated by the gods.566 Nay, there are passages in which the Hindus acknowledge a destiny or fate which over-rules the Supreme Beings themselves. “The future condition of great beings is destined with certainty, both the nakedness of Mahadeva, and the bed of Vishnu, on a vast serpent. What is not to be, that will not be; and if an event be predoomed, it cannot happen otherwise.”567

When the exaggerations of flattery are in this manner engrafted upon the original deification of the elements and powers of nature; and when the worship of heroes and of abstract ideas is incorporated with the whole; then is produced that heterogeneous and monstrous compound which has formed the religious creed of so great a portion of the human race; but composes a more stupendous mass in Hindustan than any other country; because in Hindustan a greater and more powerful section of the people, than in any other country, have, during a long series of ages, been solely occupied in adding to its volume, and augmenting its influence.568

So little do men regard incoherence of thought; so little are they accustomed to trace the relations of one set of opinions to another, and to form on any subject a consistent and harmonious combination of ideas, that while many persons of eminence loudly contend for the correctness and sublimity of the speculative, there is an universal agreement respecting the meanness, the absurdity, the folly, of the endless ceremonies, in which the practical part of the Hindu religion consists. For the illustration of this part of the subject, I shall content myself with a reference to the documents in the appendix.569 Volumes would hardly suffice to depict at large a ritual which is more tedious, minute, and burthensome; and engrosses a greater portion of human life, than any which has been found to fetter and oppress any other portion of the human race.

No circumstance connected with a religious system more decidedly pronounces on its character, than the ideas which it inculcates respecting merit and demerit, purity and impurity, innocence and guilt. If those qualities which render a man amiable, respectable, and useful; if wisdom, beneficence, self-command, are celebrated as the chief recommendation to the favour of the Almighty; if the production of happiness is steadily and consistently represented as the most acceptable worship of the Creator; no other proof is requisite, that they who framed, and they who understand this religion, have arrived at high and refined notions of an All-perfect being. But where, with no more attention to morality, than the exigencies and laws of human nature force upon the attention of the rudest tribes, the sacred duties are made to consist in frivolous observances, there, we may be assured, the religious ideas of the people are barbarous. The train of thought which tends to this conclusion is extremely similar to that which gives birth to other deformities in the religious system of ignorant minds. From the imbecilities which usually accompany exalted station, it is found, even when society is considerably improved, that assiduous attendance upon the person of the great man or prince, and unwearied contrivances for the expression of devotion and respect, are the path which leads the most surely to his attention and favour.570 To the rude mind, no other rule suggests itself for paying court to the Divine, than that for paying court to the Human Majesty; and as among a barbarous people, the forms of address, of respect, and compliment, are generally multiplied into a great variety of grotesque and frivolous ceremonies, so it happens with regard to their religious service. An endless succession of observances, in compliment to the god, is supposed to afford him the most exquisite delight; while the common discharge of the beneficent duties of life is regarded as an object of comparative indifference. It is unnecessary to cite instances in support of a representation, of which the whole history of the religion of most nations is a continual proof.

Even those inquirers who have been least aware of the grossness of the Hindu religion, have seen that wretched ceremonies constituted almost the whole of its practical part. The precepts, which are lavished upon its ceremonies, bury, in their exorbitant mass, the pittance bestowed upon all other duties taken together. On all occasions ceremonies meet the attention as the pre-eminent duties of the Hindu. The holiest man is always he, by whom the ceremonies of his religion are most strictly performed. Never among any other people did the ceremonial part of religion prevail over the moral to a greater, probably to an equal extent. Of the many rules of conduct prescribed to the householder, almost the whole concern religious observances.571 Beside the general strain of the holy text, many positive declarations ascribe infinite superiority to rites and ceremonies, above morality. “Devotion,” says Menu, “is equal to the performance of all duties; it is divine knowledge in a Brahmen; it is defence of the people in a Cshatriya; devotion is the business of trade and agriculture in a Vaisya; devotion is dutiful service in a Sudra. By reading each day as much as possible of the Veda, by performing the five great sacraments, and by forgiving all injuries, even sins of the highest degree shall soon be effaced.”572 In the following list of conditions, a small space is allotted to useful virtue. “By injuring nothing animated, by subduing all sensual appetites, by devout rites ordained in the Veda, and by rigorous mortifications, men obtain, even in this life, the state of beatitude.”573 “It is through sacrifices,” says the Calica Purana, “that princes obtain bliss, heaven, and victory over their enemies.”574

In conceiving the honours with which the divine powers should be treated, it is supposed that there are certain qualities with which it is holy or unholy to approach them. As there are certain pollutions with which it would be held disrespectful to approach an earthly superior, the same sentiment, as usual, is transferred to the heavens; and the notion of a religious impurity is engendered. This is a circumstance of considerable importance. By the nature of the particulars, to which the belief of religious purity and impurity is attached, a criterion is afforded of the mental qualities which the Divine Being is supposed to possess. The causes of impurity among the Brahmens are exceedingly numerous; that they are proportionally strange, a few instances will evince. “When a child has teethed,” says the law of Menu, “and when, after teething, his head has been shorn, and when he has been girt with his thread, and when, being full grown, he dies, all his kindred are impure: on the birth of a child, the law is the same.”575 Among a variety of other instances it is declared, that he who has touched a Chandala, a woman in her courses, an outcast, a new-born child, a corpse, or one who has touched a corpse, is impure. A Brahmen who has touched a human bone is impure.576 The rules of purification, which form a remarkable part of this subject, are not less exorbitant in their number, or extravagant in their forms. On the death of a kinsman, the modes of purification are various, according to various cases: one, which we may select as an example, is prescribed in the following words: “Let them eat vegetable food without factitious (that is, only with native) salt; let them bathe for three days at intervals; let them taste no flesh-meat; and let them sleep apart on the ground.”577 “Should a Brahmen touch a human bone moist with oil, he is purified by bathing; if it be not oily, by stroking a cow, or by looking at the sun, having sprinkled his mouth with water.”578 All those functions of the body, by which its offensive discharges are effected, or its vital powers communicated, Chap. 6. afford occasion for the ceremonies of purification.579 “Oily exudations,” says the law of Menu, “seminal fluids, blood, dandruff, urine, feces, earwax, nail-parings, phlegm, tears, concretions on the eyes, and sweat, are the twelve impurities of the human frame, and for cleansing these earth and water must be used.”580 “He who carries in any manner an inanimate burthen, and is touched by any thing impure, is cleansed by making an ablution, without laying his burden down.”581 “He who has been bitten by a dog, a shakal, or an ass, by any carnivorous animal frequenting a town, by a man, a horse, a camel, or a boar, may be purified by stopping his breath during one repetition of the gayatri.”582 After the rules for the purification of living bodies, follow precepts for the purification of things inanimate. For each of a great many species, a separate mode is prescribed. Land, for example, is cleansed, by sweeping, by smearing with cow-dung, by sprinkling with cow's urine, by scraping, or by letting a Chap. 6.cow pass a day and a night on it.583 “The purification ordained for all sorts of liquids, is by stirring them with cusa grass; for cloths folded, by sprinkling them with hallowed water; for wooden utensils, by planing them. The purification by sprinkling is ordained for grain and cloths in large quantities; but to purify them in small parcels, such as a man may easily carry, they must be washed.”584 These instances, selected merely as a small specimen of a great whole, will suffice to show what moral ideas are conveyed and inculcated in the notions of purity and impurity comprised in the religion of the Hindus.

As the purifications, so likewise the penances, prescribed by the various systems of religion, afford a remarkable indication of the qualities really ascribed to the object of worship. All penance consists in suffering. In the same degree in which the object of worship is supposed to be delighted with penance, in the same degree he is delighted with human suffering; and so far as he delights in suffering, for its own sake, so far he is a malignant being; whatever epithets, in the spirit of flattery, his votaries may confer upon him. It is natural to a rude and ignorant mind to regard the object of its worship as malignant. Things appear great or little by comparison. Amid the incessant efforts which are made to ascend another step in adulation, after all the epithets of greatness and honour are lavished upon the god, to make his greatness and honour still higher, by contrast, every epithet of meanness and contempt is heaped by the worshipper upon himself and his kind. The same is the case with his happiness; which will appear the greater, the higher it is raised above that of other beings; of course, the deeper the misery of other beings. Hence it is, that the prayers and praises, addressed to the deity by rude nations, abound with the most hyperbolical expressions of human misery as well as human depravity; that, in the religion of rude minds, pleasure in general bears a strong mark of reprobation, and the voluntary creation of pain is the strongest of all recommendations to him on whom the issues of life depend. In the language of the Greeks and Romans, the gods were envious of human happiness;585 just as the proud and haughty mind of the earthly despot, the archetype and model according to which, in certain stages of knowledge, the idea of the heavenly is regularly formed, likes not that the happiness of other people should approach to that of himself, and reaps a pleasure from their pain, both as enhancing the idea of his own happiness, and lessening the sense of his misery.586 “A sin, involuntarily committed,” says the sacred text of Menu, “is removed by repeating certain texts of the scripture, but a sin committed intentionally, by harsh penances of different sorts.”587 The following account of the reason for performing penances, has the effect of exposing to religious antipathy all those persons who are affected with a bodily infirmity. “Some evil-minded persons,” says the same sacred volume, “for sins committed in this life, and some for bad actions in a preceding state, suffer a morbid change in their bodies: a stealer of gold from a Brahmen has whitlows on his nails; a drinker of spirits, black teeth; the slayer of a Brahmen, a marasmus; the violator of his preceptor's bed, a deformity in the generative organs; a malignant informer, fetid ulcers in his nostrils; a false detractor, stinking breath; a stealer of grain, the defect of some limb; a mixer of bad wares with good, some redundant member; a stealer of dressed grain, dyspepsia; a stealer of holy words, or an unauthorised reader of the scriptures, dumbness; a stealer of clothes, leprosy; a horse-stealer, lameness; the stealer of a lamp, total blindness; the mischievous extinguisher of it, blindness in one eye; a delighter in hurting sentient creatures, perpetual illness; an adulterer, windy swelling in his limbs: Thus, according to the diversity of actions, are born men despised by the good, stupid, dumb, blind, deaf, and deformed: Penance, therefore, must invariably be performed for the sake of expiation, since they who have not expiated their sins, will again spring to birth with disgraceful marks.”588 “Any twice-born man, who has drunk spirit of rice through perverse delusion of mind, may drink more spirit in flame, and atone for his offence by severely burning his body; or he may drink boiling hot, until he die, the urine of a cow, or pure water, or milk, or clarified butter, or juice expressed from cow-dung.”589 A curious reason is assigned for the heinous guilt assigned to the drinking of intoxicating liquors by a Brahmen; Because, “stupified by drunkenness, he might fall on something very impure, or might even, when intoxicated, pronounce a secret phrase of the Veda, or might do some other act which ought not to be done.”590 If a Brahmen kill by design a cat, or an ichneumon, the bird chasha, or a frog, a dog, a lizard, an owl, or a crow, he must perform the ordinary penance required for the death of a Sudra;”591 as if the crime of killing a man were the same with that of killing a frog. “Should one of the twice-born eat the food of those persons with whom he ought never to eat, or food left by a woman, or a Sudra, or any prohibited flesh, he must drink barley gruel only for seven days and nights.”592 “Having taken goods of little value from the house of another man, he must procure absolution by performing the penance santapana, or by eating for a whole day the dung and urine of cows mixed with curds, milk, clarified butter, and water boiled with cusa grass, and then fasting entirely for a day and a night.”593 The penances for venereal sin, and the description of its various species, are unfit to be transcribed.594 Something might be said for penances, if they were attached solely to moral offences, and proportioned in painfulness to the motives to offend; because the efficacy of the punishment which is reserved to a subsequent life is commonly annihilated by remoteness. How much of this useful character belongs to the penances of the Hindus, a few passages will disclose. “He, who has officiated at a sacrifice for outcasts, or burned the corpse of a stranger, or performed rites to destroy the innocent,” (a strange association of crimes) “may expiate his guilt by three prajapatya penances.”595 “A total fast for twelve days and nights, by a penitent with his organs controlled, and his mind attentive, is the penance named paraca, which expiates all degrees of guilt.”596 He who for a whole month eats no more than thrice eighty mouthfuls of wild grains, as he happens by any means to meet with them, keeping his organs in subjection, shall attain the same abode with the regent of the moon.”597 “Sixteen suppressions of the breath, while the holiest of texts is repeated with the three mighty words, and the triliteral syllable, continued each day for a month, absolve even the slayer of a Brahman from his hidden faults.”598 “A priest who should retain in his memory the whole Rigveda would be absolved from guilt, even if he had slain the inhabitants of the three worlds, and had eaten food from the foulest hands.”599 To such a degree are fantastic ceremonies exalted above moral duties; and so easily may the greatest crimes be compensated, by the merit of ritual, and unmeaning services.600

But the excess to which religion depraves the moral sentiments of the Hindus is most remarkably exemplified in the supreme, the ineffable merit which they ascribe to the saint who makes penance his trade.

Repairing to a forest, with no other utensils or effects, than those necessary in making oblations to consecrated fire: and leaving all property, and all worldly duties behind him, he is there directed to live on pure food, on certain herbs, roots, and fruit, which he may collect in the forest, to wear a black antelope's hide, or a vesture of bark, and to suffer the hairs of his head, his beard, and his nails to grow continually. He is commanded to entertain those who may visit his hermitage with such food as he himself may use, to perform the five great sacraments, to be constantly engaged in reading the Veda; patient of all extremities, universally benevolent, with a mind intent on the Supreme Being; a perpetual giver, but no receiver of gifts; with tender affection for all animated bodies. “Let him not eat the produce of ploughed land, though abandoned by any man, nor fruits and roots produced in a town, even though hunger oppress him.———Either let him break hard fruits with a stone, or let his teeth serve as a pestle.—Let him slide backwards and forwards on the ground; or let him stand a whole day on tiptoe; or let him continue in motion rising and sitting alternately; but at sunrise, at noon, and at sunset, let him go to the waters, and bathe. In the hot season let him sit exposed to five fires, four blazing around him with the sun above; in the rains let him stand uncovered, without even a mantle, where the clouds pour the heaviest showers; in the cold season, let him wear humid vesture; and enduring harsher and harsher mortifications, let him dry up his bodily frame. Let him live without external fire, without a mansion, wholly silent, feeding on roots and fruit, sleeping on the bare earth, dwelling at the roots of trees. From devout Brahmens let him receive alms to support life, or from other housekeepers of twice-born classes, who dwell in the forest. Or, if he has any incurable disease, let him advance in a straight path, towards the invincible north eastern point, feeding on water and air, till his mortal frame totally decay, and his soul become united with the Supreme.”601

In conformity with these principles are formed those professors of mortification and piety, who are known under the modern name of Fakeers, and presented to Europeans a spectacle which so greatly surprised them. Of all the phenomena of human nature, none appears at first view more extraordinary than the self-inflicted torment of the holy saints of Hindustan. Some of them keep their hands closed till they are pierced through by the growth of the nails. Others hold them above their heads, till the power of the arms is extinguished. They make vows to remain in the standing posture for years. Three men were seen by Fryer, whose vow extended to sixteen years. One of them had completed his dreadful penance; of the rest, one had passed five years in torment, the other three. Their legs were prodigiously swelled, and deeply ulcerated; and became at last too weak to support their bodies, when they leaned on a pillow suspended from a tree. Others, turning their heads to gaze at the heaven over their shoulder, remain fixed in that posture, till the head can no longer be restored to its natural position, and no aliment, except in the liquid state, can pass down their throats.

The ceremony, commanded by Menu, “of sitting, in the hot season between five fires,” cannot be conceived without horror. A yogee, or penitent, actually seen by Fryer, had resolved to undergo this penance for forty days, at a public festival, where an immense concourse of spectators were assembled. Early on the morning, after having seated himself on a quadrangular stage he fell prostrate, and continued fervent in his devotions, till the sun began to have considerable power. He then rose, and stood on one leg, gazing stedfastly at thesun, while fires, each large enough, says the traveller, to roast an ox, were kindled at the four corners of the stage, the penitent counting his beads, and occasionally, with his pot of incense, throwing combustible materials into the fire to increase the flames. He next bowed himself down in the centre of the four fires, keeping his eyes still fixed upon the sun. Afterwards, placing himself upright on his head, with his feet elevated in the air, he stood for the extraordinary space of three hours, in that inverted position; he then seated himself with his legs across, and thus remained sustaining the raging heat of the sun and of the fires till the end of the day. Other penitents bury themselves up to the neck in the ground, or even wholly below it, leaving only a little hole through which they may breathe. They tear themselves with whips; they repose on beds of iron spikes;602 they chain themselves for life to the foot of a tree: the wild imagination of the race appears in short to have been racked to devise a sufficient variety of fantastic modes of tormenting themselves. The extent to which they carry the penance of fasting is almost incredible. They fix their eyes on the blazzing sun till the power of vision is extinguished.603 The following description, in the drama entitled Sacontala, how much soever partaking of the hyperbolical character of oriental poetry, conveys a most remarkable image of the length of time, the patience, and steadiness, with which the devotees of the forests must have remained immoveable in their solitary positions. “You see,” says one of the personages of the drama, “in that grove a pious Yogee, motionless as a pollard, holding his thick, bushy hair, and fixing his eyes on the solar orb.—Mark; his body is covered with a white ants’ edifice, made of raised clay; the skin of a snake supplies the place of his sacerdotal thread, and part of it girds his loins; a number of knotty plants encircle and wound his neck; ‘and surrounding birds’ nests almost conceal his shoulders.”604 The same venerable character is thus farther described in the Bhagvat-Geeta; “The Yogee constantly exerciseth the spirit in private. He is recluse, of a subdued mind and spirit; free from hope, and free from perception. He planteth his own seat firmly on a spot that is undefiled, neither too high, nor too low, and sitteth upon the sacred grass which is called coos, covered with a skin and a cloth. There he, whose business is the restraint of his passions, should sit, with his mind fixed on one object alone, in the exercise of his devotion for the purification of his soul, keeping his head, his neck, and his body, steady, without motion, his eyes fixed on the point of his nose, looking at no other place around. The man who keepeth the outward accidents from entering his mind, and his eyes fixed in contemplation between his brows; who maketh the breath to pass through both his nostrils alike in expiration and inspiration, who is of subdued faculties, mind, and understanding; the Yogee, who thus constantly exerciseth his soul, obtaineth happiness incorporeal and supreme.”605 This pure state of meditation, which obtains the name of devotion, is even more exalted than that of penance. “The Yogee,” says Crishna, “is more exalted than Tapaswees, those votaries who afflict themselves in performing penance, respected above the learned in science, and” (which is worthy of peculiar regard,) “superior to those who are attached to moral works.”606 “Be thou at all times,” says this supreme god to Arjoon in another place, “employed in devotion. The fruit of this surpasseth all the rewards of virtue pointed out in the Vedas, in worshippings, in mortifications, and even in the gifts of charity.”607

It is abundantly ascertained that the Hindus at one time, and that a time comparatively recent,608 were marked with the barbarity of human sacrifices.609 It even appears that the remainder of that devotional service is now in existence. When it is proposed to resist, as exorbitant, the demands of government, the Brahmens erect, what they denominate a koor, which is a circular pile of wood, with a cow, or an old woman on the top of it. If urged to extremity they set fire to the pile, and consume the victim, a sacrifice by which they are understood to involve their oppressor in the deepest guilt.610 The British Government has interfered to prevent the sacrifice of children by throwing them to the sharks in the Ganges.611

Though the progress of improvement has brought into comparative disuse the mode of seeking divine favour by the sacrifice of a fellow creature, horrid rites, which have too near an affinity with it, are still the objects of the highest veneration. It is one of the grandest achievements of piety, for individuals to sacrifice themselves in honour of the gods. There are solemn festivals, in which the images of certain deities are carried in procession in vast ponderous machines denominated raths, or chariots, drawn by a multitude of devotees and priests; when it is customary for numbers of the congregated people to throw themselves under the wheels, and even fathers and mothers with their children in their arms. The chariot passes on, as if no impediment existed, and crushing them to death, is supposed to convey them immediately to heaven.612 The practice of sacrificing themselves in the flames is a noted ceremony of the Hindus. It is sometimes executed with circumstances of studied atrocity; the victim striking himself in front with his sabre, so as to lay open his bowels to the spectators, tearing out part of his liver, cutting it off with his sabre, giving it to a relation or bystander, conversing all the time with indifference apparently complete, then with unchanged countenance leaping into the flames, and expiring without a movement.613 In some parts of India a Brahmen devotes himself to death, by eating till he expires with the surfeit.614 On great solemnities, the votaries strike off their own heads, as a sacrifice to the Ganges,615 and many drown themselves in the hallowed streams.616 Of the modes adopted by the Hindus of sacrificing themselves to the divine powers, none however has more excited the attention of the Europeans, than the burning of the wives on the funeral piles of their husbands. To this cruel sacrifice the highest virtues are ascribed. “The wife who commits herself to the flames with her husband's corpse, shall equal Arundhati, and reside in Swarga; accompanying her husband, she shall reside so long in Swarga, as are the thirty-five millions of hairs on the human body.617 As the snake-catcher forcibly drags the serpent from his earth, so, bearing her husband from hell, with him, she shall enjoy the delights of heaven, while fourteen Indras reign. If her husband had killed a Brahmana, broken the ties of gratitude, or murdered his friend, she expiates the crime.”618 Though a widow has the alternative of leading a life of chastity, of piety, and mortification, denied to the pleasures of dress, never sleeping on a bed, never exceeding one meal a day, nor eating any other than simple food, it is held her duty to burn herself along with her husband; and “the Hindu legislators,” says Mr. Colebrooke, “have shown themselves disposed to encourage” this barbarous sacrifice.619

Such are the acts, by which, according to the Hindu religion, the favour of the Almighty Power is chiefly to be gained; such are the ideas respecting purity and merit, which it is calculated to inspire. Yet if any one concludes that the Hindus were unacquainted with the ordinary precepts of morality, he will be greatly deceived. “By Brahmens,” says the law of Menu, “placed in the four orders, a tenfold system of duties must ever be sedulously practised; Content; returning good for evil; resistance to sensual appetites; abstinence from illicit gain; purification; coercion of the organs; knowledge of scripture; knowledge of the supreme spirit; veracity; and freedom from wrath.”620 In this enumeration of duties, though a large proportion is allowed to acts purely ceremonial and useless; yet some of the noblest virtues are included. “Action,” says the same sacred code, “is either mental, verbal, or corporeal. Devising means to appropriate the wealth of other men, resolving on any forbidden deed, and conceiving notions of atheism or materialism, are the three bad acts of the mind: scurrilous language, falsehood, indiscriminate backbiting, and useless tattle, are the four bad acts of the tongue: Taking effects not given, hurting sentient creatures without the sanction of law, and criminal intercourse with the wife of another, are three bad acts of the body; and all the ten have their opposites, which are good in an equal degree.”621 Though there is something extremely whimsical in the consequence ascribed to the following acts of injustice, yet they are with great propriety forbidden: “He who appropriates to his own use, the carriage, the bed, the seat, the well, the garden, or the house of another man, who has not delivered them to him, assumes a fourth part of the guilt of their owner.”622 The following observations are in a pure and elevated strain of morality: “Even here below an unjust man attains no felicity; nor he whose wealth proceeds from giving false evidence; nor he, who constantly takes delight in mischief. Though oppressed by penury, in consequence of his righteous dealings, let him never give his mind to unrighteousness; for he may observe the speedy overthrow of iniquitous and sinful men. Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season; and, advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it. Yes; iniquity, once committed, fails not of producing fruit to him who wrought it. He grows rich for a while through unrighteousness; then he beholds good things; then it is that he vanquishes his foes; but he perishes at length from his whole root upwards. Let a man continually take pleasure in truth, in justice, in laudable practices, and in purity; let him chastise those, whom he may chastise, in a legal mode; let him keep in subjection his speech, his arm, and his appetite: wealth and pleasures, repugnant to law, let him shun; and even lawful acts, which may cause future pain, or be offensive to mankind.”623

Sir William Jones, whom it is useful to quote, because his authority may have influence with those whose opinions I am constrained to controvert, observes, that “the principles of morality are few, luminous, and ready to present themselves on every occasion.”624 Descanting on the rudeness, and ignorance, of the Scythian nations; “of any philosophy,” he says, “except natural ethics, which the rudest society requires, and experience teaches, we find no more vestiges in Asiatic Scythia, than in ancient Arabia.”625 He was not surprised to find natural ethics, where not a vestige of philosophy was found; because “natural ethics,” are what “the rudest society requires, and experience teaches.” If we search a little further, we shall discover that nations differ less from one another in the knowledge of morality, and of its obligations, (the rules of morality have been taught in all nations in a manner remarkably similar), than in the degrees of steadiness, with which they assign the preference to moral, above other acts. Among rude nations it has almost always been found, that religion has served to degrade morality, by advancing to the place of greatest honour, those external performances, or those mental exercises, which more immediately regarded the deity; and with which, of course, he was supposed to be more peculiarly delighted. On no occasion, indeed, has religion obliterated the impressions of morality, of which the rules are the fundamental laws of human society: morality has every where met with the highest applause; and no where has it been celebrated in more pompous strains, than in places where the most contemptible, or the most abominable rites, have most effectually been allowed to usurp its honours.626 It is not so much, therefore, by the mere words in which morality is mentioned, that we are to judge of the mental perfections of different nations, as by the place which it clearly holds in the established scale of meritorious acts. In a moment of hyperbolical praise, it may even receive a verbal preference to ceremonies; as in one passage of the Institutes of Menu: “A wise man should constantly discharge all the moral duties, though he perform not constantly the ceremonies of religion; since he falls low, if, while he performs ceremonial acts only, he discharge not his moral duties.”627 Yet in the entire system of rules concerning duty, the stress which is laid upon moral acts, may, as we see in the case of the Hindus, bear no comparison to the importance which is attached to useless or pernicious ceremonies. Such a maxim as that which has just been quoted, can be regarded as but of little value, when it is surrounded by numerous maxims of the following tendency; “Not a mortal exists more sinful than he, who, without an oblation to the manes or gods, desires to enlarge his own flesh with the flesh of another creature.”628 “From the three Vedas, the lord of creatures, incomprehensibly exalted, successively milked out the three measures of that ineffable text beginning with the word tad and entitled, savitri, or gayatri; whoever shall repeat, day by day, for three years, without negligence, that sacred text, shall hereafter approach the divine essence, move as freely as air, and assume an ethereal form.”629 “Studying and comprehending the Veda, practising pious austerities, acquiring divine knowledge, command over the organs of sense and action, avoiding all injury to sentient creatures, and showing reverence to a natural and spiritual father, are the chief branches of duty which ensure final happiness.”630 “Even three suppressions of breath made according to the divine rule, accompanied with the triverbal phrase, and the triliteral syllable, may be considered as the highest devotion of a Brahmen; for as the dross and impurities of metallic ores are consumed by fire, thus are the sinful acts of the human organs consumed by suppressions of the breath.”631 If we examine that highest degree of merit to which the imagination of the Hindu can ascend, that of the Sanyassi, or professor of austere devotion, we shall find it to consist in an absolute renunciation of all moral duties, and moral affections. “Exemption from attachments, and affection for children, wife, and home;”632 nay, “the abandonment of all earthly attachments,”633 form a necessary part of that perfection after which he aspires.

It is by no means unnatural for the religion of a rude people to unite opposite qualities, to preach the most harsh austerities, and at the same time to encourage the loosest morality. It may be matter of controversy to what degree the indecent objects employed in the Hindu worship imply depravity of manners; but a religion which subjects to the eyes of its votaries the grossest images of sensual pleasure, and renders even the emblems of generation objects of worship; which ascribes to the supreme God an immense train of obscene acts; which has them engraved on the sacred cars, pourtrayed in the temples, and presented to the people as objects of adoration, which pays worship to the Yoni, and the Lingam, cannot be regarded as favourable to chastity.634 Nor can it be supposed, when to all these circumstances is added the institution of a number of girls, attached to the temples, whose business is dancing and prostitution, that this is a virtue encouraged by the religion of the Hindus.

Another contrast to the tortures and death which the religion of the Hindus exhorts them to inflict upon themselves, is the sacredness which it imprints upon the life of animals. Not only are the Hindus prohibited the use of animal food, except at certain peculiar sacrifices; even the offerings to the gods consist almost entirely of inanimate objects; and to deprive any sensitive creature of life, is a heinous transgression of religious duty. Many of the inferior creatures, both animate and inanimate, are the objects of religious veneration; such, in particular, are the cow, the lotos, and cusa grass. Nor, in this enumeration, must the dung and urine of the cow be forgotten; things so holy as to be of peculiar efficacy in the ceremonies of purification. To whatever origin we may ascribe this strange application of the religious principle, it has at least been very widely diffused. It is known that many negro tribes worship animals and reptiles; and that they carry the solicitude for their preservation to a still more extravagant pitch than even the Hindus; punishing with death those who hurt them even casually.635 The sacred character in Egypt of the ox, and of many other animals, is too familiarly known to require any proof. The cow was oracular, and sacred among the Amonians.636 Not only cows, but horses, eagles, lions, bears, were divine animals among the Syrians.637 The Egyptian priests respected as sacred the life of all animals, and animal food seems to have been interdicted not less in Egypt than in Hindustan.638 At an early period, the Greeks, and even the Romans, punished with death, the killing of an ox.639 The worship of this species of quadrupeds appears indeed to have been common to all the idolatrous nations from Japan to Scandinavia.640 That, in India, it was a worship directed to no moral end, is evident upon the slightest inspection. To renounce the benefits which the inferior animals are fitted by nature to render to man, is not humanity, any more than swinging before an idol, by an iron hook, forced through the muscles of the back, is the virtue of self-command. And that this superstition took not its rise from a sensibility to the feelings of animated creatures, is evident from the barbarous character of several of the nations where it prevails; from the proverbial cruelty suffered by the labouring animals of Hindustan; and from the apathy with which human beings are left to expire by hunger and disease, while reptiles are zealously tended and fed.641

Religion consists of two great doctrines; that concerning the nature and service of God; and that concerning the nature and destination of the human soul. In the complicated superstition of the Hindus, the first presented many questions which it needed a considerable accumulation of evidence to solve. Of the latter, a just idea may be speedily conveyed.

It is well known that the metempsychosis, or the transmigration of the soul into various orders of being, reviving in one form, when it ceases to exist in another, is the tenet of the Hindus. This is a theory well calculated to present itself to the mind of the rude inquirer, when first excited to stretch his views beyond the present term of sensation and action. The vegetable life, which expires in the plant, in autumn, revives in the seed in spring. The sluggish worm, which undergoes a species of death, and buries itself in a tomb of its own formation, springs again to life, a gay and active creature, as different in appearance, as in appetites and powers. Every thing on earth is changed, nothing annihilated; and the soul of the man who expires to day, revives in something else, to which life is at that instant imparted.

Some very obvious, and very impressive appearances must have suggested the notion of the metempsychosis, since it is one of the most ancient, and one of the most general of all religious opinions. “No doctrine,” says Dupuis, “was ever more universally diffused; none claims an origin so ancient. It reigned in the East, and in the West, among rude nations, and polished nations; and it ascends to antiquity so high, that Burnet ingeniously declares, one would believe it to be descended from heaven; so much it appears without father, without mother, and without descent.”642 The Brahmens grafted upon it, in their usual way, a number of fantastic refinements, and gave to their ideas on this subject, a more systematic form than is usual with those eccentric theologians. They describe the mind as characterized by three qualities, goodness, passion, darkness. According as any soul is distinguished by one or another of those qualities in its present life, is the species of being into which it migrates in the life to come. Souls endued with goodness attain the condition of deities; those filled with passion receive that of men; those immersed in darkness are condemned to that of beasts. Each of these conditions, again, is divided into three degrees, a lower, a middle, and a higher. Of the souls distinguished by darkness, the lowest are thrust into mineral and vegetable substances, into worms, reptiles, fishes, snakes, tortoises, cattle, shakals; the middle pass into elephants, horses, Sudras, Mlec’has, (a word of very opprobrious import, denoting men of all other races not Hindu,) lions, tigers, and boars; the highest animate the forms of dancers, singers, birds, deceitful men, giants, and blood-thirsty savages. Of the souls who receive their future condition from the quality of passion, the lowest pass into cudgel players, boxers, wrestlers, actors, those who teach the use of weapons, and those who are addicted to gaming and drinking; the middle enter the bodies of kings, men of the fighting class, domestic priests of kings, and men skilled in the war of controversy; the highest become gand-harvas, (a species of supposed aërial spirits, whose business is music,) genii, attending superior gods, together with various companies of apsarases, or nymphs. Of the souls who are characterized by the quality of goodness, the lowest migrate into hermits, religious mendicants, other Brahmens, such orders of demigods as are wafted in airy cars, genii of the signs and lunar mansions, and Daityas, another of their many orders of superior spirits; the middle attain the condition of sacrificers, of holy sages, deities of the lower heaven, genii of the Vedas, regents of stars, divinities of years, Pitris, and Sadhyas, two other species of exalted intelligences; the highest ascend to the condition of Brahma with four faces, of creators of worlds, of the genius of virtue, and the divinities presiding over the two principles of nature.643 Besides this general description of the future allotment of different souls, a variety of particular dooms are specified, of which a few may be taken as an example. “Sinners in the first degree,” says the ordinance of Menu, “having passed through terrible regions of torture, for a great number of years, are condemned to the following births at the close of that period. The slayer of a Brahmen must enter the body of a dog, a boar, an ass, a camel, a bull, a goat, a sheep, a stag, a bird, a Chandala, or a Puccasa. He, who steals the gold of a priest, shall pass a thousand times into the bodies of spiders, of snakes, and camelions, of crocodiles, and other aquatic monsters, or of mischievous blood-sucking demons. He who violates the bed of his natural or spiritual father, migrates a hundred times into the forms of grasses, of shrubs, with crowded stems, or of creeping and twining plants, carnivorous animals, beasts with sharp teeth, or cruel brutes.”644 After a variety of other cases, a general rule is declared, for those of the four castes who neglect the duties of their order: “Should a Brahmen omit his peculiar duty, he shall be changed into a demon, with a mouth like a firebrand, who devours what has been vomited; a Cshatriya, into a demon who feeds on ordure and carrion; a Vaisya, into an evil being who eats purulent carcases; and a Sudra, who neglects his occupations, into a foul embodied spirit, who feeds on lice.”645 The reward of the most exalted piety, of the most profound meditation, of that exquisite abstemiousness which dries up the mortal frame, is peculiar: Such a perfect soul becomes absorbed in the Divine essence, and is for ever exempt from transmigration.646

We might very easily, from the known laws of human nature, conclude, notwithstanding the language held by the Hindus on the connection between future happiness and the virtue of the present life, that rewards and punishments, very distant and very obscure, would be wholly impotent against temptations to crime; though, at the instigation of the priests, they might engage the people in a ceaseless train of wretched ceremonies. The fact corresponds most exactly with the anticipation. An admirable witness has said, “The doctrine of a state of future rewards and punishments, as some persons may plead, has always been supposed to have a strong influence on public morals: the Hindoos not only have this doctrine in their writings, but are taught to consider every disease and misfortune of life as an undoubted symptom of moral disease, and the terrific appearance of its close-pursuing punishment. Can this fail to produce a dread of vice, and a desire to merit the favour of the Deity? I will still farther,” he adds, “assist the objector; and inform him, that the Hindoo writings declare, that till every immoral taint is removed, every sin atoned for, and the mind has obtained perfect abstraction from material objects, it is impossible to be re-united to the great spirit; and that, to obtain this perfection, the sinner must linger in many hells, and transmigrate through almost every form of matter.” Our informant then declares; “Great as these terrors are, there is nothing more palpable than that, with most of the Hindoos, they do not weigh the weight of a feather, compared with the loss of a roopee. The reason is obvious: every Hindoo considers all his actions as the effect of his destiny; he laments, perhaps, his miserable fate, but he resigns himself to it without a struggle, like the malefactor in a condemned cell.” This experienced observer adds, which is still more comprehensive, that the doctrine of future rewards and punishments has, in no situation, and among no people, a power to make men virtuous.647
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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CHAP. VII.

Manners.

By the manners of a nation are understood the peculiar modes in which the ordinary business of human life is carried on. The business itself is every where essentially the same. In all nations men eat and drink; they meet, converse, transact, and sport together. But the manner in which these and other things are performed is as different as the nations are numerous into which the race is divided.

So much of the entire business of life, among the Hindus, consists in religious services, that the delineation of their religion is a delineation of the principal branch of their manners.

The singular distinctions, attached to the different classes, present another remarkable feature in the manners of this people. The lower orders, in other countries, are often lamentably debased; in Hindustan they are degraded below the brutes. With the single exception of the Vaisya caste, to whom is appropriated the business of agriculture and of barter, the whole of the productive classes, according to the standards of law and religion, are vile and odious, unworthy to eat, to drink, or to sit with a member of the classes above them.

There are four remarkable periods into which, with respect to the three honourable classes, human life is divided. Of these periods; or orders, as they are denominated by the Hindus; the first is that of the student; the second, that of the householder; the third, that of the man who performs penance or other religious acts, residing continually in a forest; the fourth, that of the Sannyasi, or the ascetic absorbed in divine contemplation.648

The period of the student commences at the era of investiture.649 Prior to this age, the situation of children is remarkable; even those of a Brahmen are not held superior in rank to a Sudra.650 The condition of the student much more closely resembles that of an European apprentice than that of a pupil in literature. He dwells in the house of his preceptor, and tends him with the most respectful assiduity. He is commanded to exert himself in all acts useful to his teacher;651 and of course performs the part of an assistant in all the offices of religion.652 “As he who digs deep with a spade comes to a spring of water, so the student, who humbly serves his teacher, attains the knowledge which lies deep in his teacher's mind.” Upon the student of the priestly order a peculiar burden, or distinction, is imposed: to acquire daily his food by begging.653

The gift of sacred instruction is not bestowed indiscriminately; but the text, which regulates the choice of pupils, is so vague as to leave the selection nearly at the discretion of the master. “Ten persons,” it is declared, “may legally be instructed in the Veda; the son of a spiritual teacher; a boy who is assiduous; one who can impart other knowledge; one who is just; one who is pure; one who is friendly; one who is powerful; one who can bestow wealth; one who is honest; and one who is related by blood. Where virtue and wealth are not found, or diligent attention proportioned, in that soil divine instruction must not be sown; it would perish like fine seed in barren land.”654

The instruction which is bestowed may soon be described. “The venerable preceptor, having girt his pupil with the thread, must first instruct him in purification, in good customs, in the management of the consecrated fire, and in the holy rites of morning, noon, and evening.”655 The grand object of attention and solicitude is the reading of the Veda.656 Some classes of the Brahmens have united with their religious doctrines certain speculations concerning the intellectual and material worlds; and these speculations have been dignified with the name of philosophy; but the holy rites, and the Veda, form the great, and on most occasions the exclusive object of that higher instruction which is bestowed on the pupil of the Brahmen.

On this important occasion, as on other occasions, the attention of the Hindu is much more engaged by frivolous observances, than by objects of utility. While the directions laid down respecting the instruction of the pupil are exceedingly few and insignificant, the forms, according to which he must pay his duty to the master, are numerous, minute, and emphatically enjoined.657

The duration of the period of study is very indefinite. “The discipline of a student in the three Vedas may be continued for thirty-six years, in the house of his preceptor; or for half that time, or for a quarter of it, or until he perfectly comprehend them: A student, whose rules have not been violated, may assume the order of a married man, after he has read in succession a sac’ha, or branch from each of the three Vedas, or from two or from any one of them.”658 It is even permitted to pass the whole period of life in the state of a pupil; and to this merit so exalted is ascribed, that the very highest rewards of religion are bestowed upon it. “If a student anxiously desire to pass his whole life in the house of a sacerdotal teacher, he must serve him with assiduous care, till he be released from his mortal frame. That Brahmen who has dutifully attended his preceptor till the dissolution of his body, passes directly to the eternal mansion of God.”659 Should the teacher die, the student must attend upon his widow, his son, or one of his paternal kinsmen, with the same respect as to the deceased preceptor. Should none of these be living he occupies the seat of the preceptor himself.660

To the state of the student succeeds that of the married man, or the housekeeper. It is at this epoch that the Hindu begins to sustain a part as the member of society.

Marriage is a religious duty; and a duty of the highest order. Except for some grand plan of devotion, as that of remaining a student, or of becoming a fakeer, no man neglects at an early age to fulfil this sacred obligation. As the sacrament of obsequies to the manes of ancestors can be performed only by a male descendant, and as any failure in these obsequies deeply affects the spirits of the dead, to die without a son is regarded as one of the greatest of all calamities.661

The ceremonies of marriage, entirely religious, have been already described. Marriages are distinguished into eight kinds; of which one half are honourable, and differ from one another only in some minute circumstances; in the fifth the bridegroom bestows gifts upon the bride, her father, and paternal kinsman; the last three are rather species of unlawful connexion, than forms of nuptial contract; one being voluntary and by mutual consent; the other forcible, when a woman is seized, “while she weeps, and calls for assistance, after her kinsmen and friends have been slain in battle;” the last, “when the damsel is sleeping, or flushed with strong liquor, or disordered in her intellect.”662 With the grand rule to prevent the intermixture of the castes, the reader is already acquainted. “For the first marriage of the twice-born classes,” says the law of Menu, “a woman of the same class is recommended; but for such as are impelled by inclination to marry again, women in the direct order of the classes are to be preferred: a Sudra woman only must be the wife of a Sudra; she and a Vaisya of a Vaisya; they two and a Cshatriya, of a Cshatriya; those two and a Brahmani, of a Brahmen.”663 The Hindu law-givers, who commonly mistake minuteness for precision, and are apt to be most particular where it is least required, make rules for the choice of a wife. “In connecting a man's self with a wife, let him,” says Menu, “studiously avoid the ten following families, be they ever so great, or ever so rich in kine, goats, sheep, gold, and grain: The family which has omitted prescribed acts of religion; that which has produced no male children; that in which the Veda has not been read; that which has thick hair on the body; and those which have been subject to hemorrhoids, to phthisis, to dyspepsia, to epilepsy, to leprosy, and to elephantiasis. Let him not marry a girl with reddish hair, nor with any deformed limb; nor one troubled with habitual sickness; nor one either with no hair, or too much; nor one immoderately talkative; nor one with inflamed eyes; nor one with the name of a constellation, of a tree, or of a river, of a barbarous nation, or of a mountain, of a winged creature, a snake, or a slave; nor with any name raising an image of terror. Let him choose for his wife a girl, whose form has no defect; who has an agreeable name; who walks gracefully like a phenicopteros, or like a young elephant; whose hair and teeth are moderate respectively in quantity and in size; whose body has exquisite softness.”664

The condition of the women is one of the most remarkable circumstances in the manners of nations. Among rude people, the women are generally degraded; among civilized people they are exalted.665 In the barbarian, the passion of sex is a brutal impulse, which infuses no tenderness; and his undisciplined nature leads him to abuse his power over every creature that is weaker than himself. The history of uncultivated nations uniformly represents the women as in a state of abject slavery, from which they slowly emerge, as civilization advances. Among some of the negro tribes on the coast of Africa, the wife is never permitted to receive any thing from the hands of her husband, or even to appear in his presence, except on her knees.666 In the empire of Congo, where the people are sufficiently advanced to be united in a large community; and in most of the nations which inhabit the southern regions of Africa, the women are reckoned unworthy to eat with the men.667 In such a state of society property is an advantage which it may naturally be supposed that the degraded sex are by no means permitted to enjoy. Not only among the African and other savage tribes, and the Tartars of the present day, but among the ancient inhabitants of Chaldea and Arabia, and all the nations of Europe in their ancient uncivilized state, the women were excluded from the inheritance of the family.668 Being condemned to severe and perpetual labour, they are themselves regarded as useful property. Hence a father parts not with his daughter but for a valuable consideration; hence the general custom, among barbarous nations, as in Pegu, in Siberia, among the Tartars, among the negroes on the coast of Guinea, among the Arabs, and even among the Chinese, of purchasing the bride by a dower.669 It is only in that improved state of property and security, when the necessities of life have ceased to create perpetual solicitude, and when a large share of attention may be given to its pleasures; that the women, from their influence on those pleasures, begin to be an object of regard. As society refines upon its enjoyments, and advances into that state of civilization, in which various corporeal qualities become equal or superior in value to corporeal strength, and in which the qualities of the mind are ranked above the qualities of the body, the condition of the weaker sex is gradually improved, till they associate on equal terms with the men, and occupy the place of voluntary and useful coadjutors.

A state of dependance more strict and humiliating than that which is ordained for the weaker sex among the Hindus cannot easily be conceived. “Day and night,” says Menu, “must women be held by their protectors in a state of dependance.”670 Who are meant by their protectors is immediately explained: “Their fathers protect them in childhood; their husbands protect them in youth, their sons protect them in age: a woman,” it is added, “is never fit for independence. Let husbands consider this as the supreme law, ordained for all classes; and let them, how weak soever, diligently keep their wives under lawful restrictions.”671 “By a girl, or by a young woman, or by a woman advanced in years, nothing,” says the same code, “must be done, even in her own dwelling-place, according to her mere pleasure. In childhood must a female be dependant on her father; in youth, on her husband; her lord being dead, on her sons: a woman must never seek independence.”672 The deference which is exacted towards her husband is without limits. “Though inobservant of approved usages, or enamoured of another woman, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must constantly be revered as a god by a virtuous wife. No sacrifice is allowed to women apart from their husbands, no religious rite, no fasting: as far only as a wife honours her lord, so far she is exalted in heaven.”673 “She who neglects her lord, though addicted to gaming, fond of spirituous liquors, or diseased, must be deserted for three months, and deprived of her ornaments and household furniture.”674 To every species of ill-usage, she is bound to submit; “neither by sale nor desertion,” says the ordinance of Menu, “can a wife be released from her husband: thus we fully acknowledge the law enacted of old by the lord of creatures.”675 This is a remarkable law; for it indicates the power of the husband to sell his wife for a slave, and by conse quence proves, that her condition, while in his house, was not regarded as very different from slavery. A law is even made to direct the mode in which she is beaten; “A wife, a son, a servant, a pupil, and a younger whole brother, may be corrected, when they commit faults, with a rope, or the small shoot of a cane; but on the back part only of their bodies, and not on a noble part by any means.”676

Nothing can exceed the habitual contempt which the Hindus entertain for their women. “Hardly are they ever mentioned in their laws, or other books, but as wretches of the most base and vicious inclinations, on whose nature no virtuous or useful qualities can be engrafted. “Their husbands,” says the sacred code, “should be diligently careful in guarding them; though they well know the disposition with which the lord of creation formed them; Menu allotted to such women a love of their bed, of their seat, and of ornament, impure appetites, wrath, weak flexibility, desire of mischief, and bad conduct.”677 “Be there no place, be there no time, be there no one to tempt them,” says the Hetopadesa, “then, O Narada, doth women's chastity appear. Women at all times have been inconstant, even among the celestials, we are told. In infancy the father should guard her, in youth her husband should guard her, and in old age her children should guard her; for at no time is a woman proper to be trusted with liberty.”678 The same author declares again; “Unto woman no man is to be found disagreeable, no man agreeable. They may be compared to a heifer on the plain, that still longeth for fresh grass. Infidelity, violence, deceit, envy, extreme avariciousness, a total want of good qualities, with impurity, are the innate faults of womankind.”679

They are held, accordingly, in extreme degradation. They are not accounted worthy to partake of religious rites but in conjunction with their husbands.680 They are entirely excluded from the sacred books; “Women have no business with the texts of the Veda; thus is the law fully settled: having, therefore, no evidence of law, and no knowledge of expiatory texts, sinful women must be as foul as falsehood itself. To this effect many texts, which may show their true disposition, are chanted in the Vedas.”681 “A minor,” says the law, “one single person, a woman, a man of bad principles, &c. may not be witnesses.”682 We have already seen, as in the most barbarous nations, that the women among the Hindus are excluded from sharing in the paternal property.683 They are, by system, deprived of education.684 That remarkable proof of barbarity, the wife held unworthy to eat with her husband, is prevalent in Hindustan.684

An almost unlimited power of rejection or divorce appears to be reserved to the husband. In the code of Gentoo laws, among various other ordinances to the same purpose, it is declared that, “a woman who dissipates or spoils her own property, or who procures abortion, or who has an intention to murder her husband, and is always quarrelling with every body, and who eats before her husband eats, such women shall be turned out of the house.”686 On grounds like these, a man can never be without a pretence for dismissing his wife. But on the other hand we have seen that no species of barbarous treatment, not even desertion and sale, ever absolves the woman from her obligations to her lord.687

That polygamy was an established custom of the Hindus, we learn from various documents, and among others from the following story, which at the same time conveys no evidence of their domestic gentleness:—“In the city of Devee-kotta, there was a Brahman, whose name was Deva-Sarma. One lucky evening he found a curious dish, which he took with him into a potter's warehouse full of earthen-ware, and throwing himself upon a bed which happened to be there, it being night, he began to express his thoughts upon the occasion in this manner:—If I dispose of this dish, I shall get ten kapardakas (cowries) for it; and with that sum I may purchase many pots and pans, the sale of which will increase my capital so much that I shall be able to lay in a large stock of cloth and the like; which having disposed of at a great advance, I shall have accumulated a fortune of a lack of money. With this I will marry four wives; and of these I will amuse myself with her who may prove the handsomest. This will create jealousy;so when the rival wives shall be quarrelling, then will I, overwhelmed with anger, hurl my stick at them thus! Saying which he flung his walking-stick out of his hand with such force, that he not only broke his curious dish, but destroyed many of the pots and pans in the shop.”688

The Hindus were, notwithstanding, so far advanced in civilization, except in the mountainous and most barbarous tracts of the country, as to have improved in some degree upon the manners of savage tribes. They have some general precepts, recommending indulgence and humanity in favour of the weaker sex. “Married women,” says the law of Menu, “must be honoured and adorned by their fathers and brethren, by their husbands, and by the brethren of their husbands, if they seek abundant prosperity. Where female relations are made miserable, the family of him, who makes them so, very soon wholly perishes.”689 When particulars indeed are explained, the indulgences recommended are not very extensive. It is added, “Let those women, therefore, be continually supplied with ornaments, apparel, and food, at festivals, and at jubilees, by men desirous of wealth.”690 When it is commanded by law, as an extraordinary extension of liberality, to give them ornaments, and even apparel and food, at festivals and jubilees; this is rather a proof of habitual degradation than of general respect and tenderness. The idea, however, of purchasing a wife, as a slave, from her relations, had become odious; and though it is stated as one of the eight species of nuptial contract, it is classed among the dishonourable species, and forbidden.691 As the necessity of such a law indicates a state of society but one remove from that in which the unhappy bride is purchased and sold; so the customary, and original purchasing gift, the bull and the cow, still remained; but it had acquired a religious character, and was at last commanded to pass by another name. “Some say,” observes the law of Menu, “that the bull and cow given in the nuptial ceremony of the Rishis, are a bribe to the father; but this is untrue: a bribe indeed, whether large or small, is an actual sale of the daughter.”692 There are texts, however, which directly recognize the transaction as a purchase: “He who takes to wife,” it is said, “a damsel of full age, shall not give a nuptial present to her father; since the father lost his dominion over her, by detaining her at a time when she might have been a parent.”693 The obligation of the marriage contract is stated in the Institutes of Menu, under the head of purchase and sale; and it is expressly said, “If, after one damsel has been shown, another be offered to the bridegroom, who had purchased leave to marry her from her next kinsman, he may become the husband of both for the same price: this law Menu ordained.”694 The same undoubtedly is the purport of the following sacred text: “The recitation of holy texts, and the sacrifice ordained by the lord of creatures, are used in marriages for the sake of procuring good fortune to brides; but the first gift by the husband is the primary cause of marital dominion.”695 It is to be observed, besides, that the women have no choice in their own destiny; but are absolutely at the disposal of their fathers, till three years after the nuptial age. If, until that period, the father have neglected what is reckoned one of his most sacred duties, to place his daughter in a situation to become a parent, he forfeits, through his sin, the dominion over her, and she may choose a husband for herself.696

It has been doubted whether immuring the women was an original part of Hindu manners, or adopted in consequence of the intercourse and dominion of the Mahomedans. But they have been found in a state of seclusion and confinement beyond the range of Mahomedan influence.697 The practice is fully recognized in the ancient writings. We are told in the Bhagavat, that, on the day of the yug of Judishter, “the women who, buried in harams, were seldom permitted to see the sun, came out, on that day, to view rajah Judishter.”698 The monarch who forms the hero in the drama entitled Sacontala had many wives, and they are represented as residing in the secret apartments of the palace.699 The whole spirit of the Hindu maxims indicates confinement: there are numerous precepts which respect the guarding of women: and the punishment for vitiating those who are not guarded is always less than the punishment in the case of those that are.700 Among these proofs of confinement are also appearances of freedom. The law of seclusion is made only for the few. Among the jealous Ottomans themselves, the great body of the community must leave their women at large, because an indigent man can neither dispense with the useful services of his wife, nor afford the cost of retaining her in confinement. In the earlier and ruder states of society, when men are in general poor, few can afford the expense of confinement; but among the Hindus, as in general among the nations of Asia, since their emerging from the rudest barbarism, it seems to have been the practice for every man, who possessed sufficient means, to keep his women guarded, in a state of seclusion.

On the coast of Malabar, where the manners differ considerably from those of the rest of the Hindus, and where the people have not reached a state of society altogether so perfect as that in some other parts of Hindustan, it would appear that the institution of marriage has never been regularly introduced. The peculiar mode in which the intercourse of the sexes is here carried on has not yet been satisfactorily explained to us, and from the differences which appear in the accounts of different authors it probably exhibits considerable variety; but in its general character it is pretty evidently a relict of the period in which there is no law for the association of the sexes; when their intercourse is casual; when the father of the offspring is by consequence uncertain; and when the children of necessity belong to the mother. The nearest male relations of the female, her father being in this case unknown, are her brothers; who, never having children whom they can recognize as their own, naturally contract an affection for those of their sister whom they support and with whom they live; by consequence regard them as in some measure their own; and vest them with the property which they leave at their death. In the family of a Nair there is no wife; all the brothers and sisters live under the same roof; their mother the only known parent, during her life, and after her death the eldest sister, manage the domestic affairs; the sisters cohabit with the men of their choice, subject only to the sacred restriction of a class not inferior to their own; the children are by the brothers regarded as their own, and inherit the property of the family.701 This is the exact description of a people among whom the institution of marriage is unknown, and the order into which things will run of their own accord, wherever the intercourse of the sexes is casual. The Nairs, however, are said to have added a kind of refinement to this established custom. They contract a marriage with a particular woman. But this is entirely nominal. The woman never leaves her mother's house; her intercourse with other men is not restricted; her children belong to her brothers; and the arrangement of society is the same as if no such marriage existed. If it really takes place, and the absurdity of the thing may support a suspicion of some mistake in our informants, it must be the effect of imitation, and of the reproaches which this people have sustained from other nations. These circumstances move them to contrive a semblance of a marriage, though not in the least degree to alter the established system of manners, to which it adheres as a useless excrescence. The Nairs are only one of the castes; and there appears to be some diversity in the mode of intercourse between the sexes in the several castes. The fashion among the Nairs is the standard to which they all approach. Our information, however, of these diversities, even if they merited a fuller elucidation, is too imperfect for minute description.702


It is not surprising, that grossness, in ideas and language, respecting the intercourse of the sexes, is a uniform concomitant of the degraded state of the women. Superficial contemplators have, in general, contented themselves with remarking, that it was a diversity of manners; or was the effect of a diversity of climate; and that what in one place was gross bore a different interpretation in another. Inquiry discovers, that grossness in this respect is a regular ingredient in the manners of a rude age; and that society, as it refines, deposits this, among its other impurities. The ancient inhabitants of our own country were as indelicate as those of the hottest regions of Asia.703 All European witnesses have been struck with the indelicacy of the Hindus. The gross emblems and practices of their religion are already known.704 To the indecent passages in the books of law, and the practices which they describe, exceedingly numerous, and exceedingly gross, we can here only allude.705 Both the writings and conversation of the Hindus abound with passages which are shocking to European ears. Even in the popular and moral work, entitled Hetopadesa, there are parts which Mr. Wilkins could not translate; and he thus expresses himself on this characteristic of society among the Hindus: “The translator has carefully refined a great many indelicate expressions, which a Hindu lady, from grosser habits, might hear without a blush; and even omitted whole passages when that could not be effected but by a total change of the author's meaning.”706 Another Oriental scholar, as well as eye-witness of the manners he describes, affords us a passage which at once pourtrays this part of the Hindu character, and traces one of those remarkable resemblances, which run through the principal nations of Asia. “The Persian woman,” says Mr. Scott Waring, “like the Indian, are totally devoid of delicacy; their language is often gross and disgusting, nor do they feel more hesitation in expressing themselves before men, than they would before their female associates. Their terms of abuse or reproach are indelicate to the utmost degree. I will not disgust the reader by noticing any of them; but I may safely aver that it is not possible for language to express, or the imagination to conceive, more indecent or grosser images.”707

Much attention has been attracted to the gentleness of manners, in this people. They possess a feminine softness both in their persons and in their address. As the inhabitants of Europe were rough and impetuous, in their rude and early state, and grew mild only as they grew civilized, the gentleness of Hindu manners has usually impressed their European visitors, with a high conception of their progress in civilization. It is, perhaps, a ground of presumption; but fallacious if taken as a proof. One of the circumstances which distinguish the state ofcommencing civilization is, that it is compatible with great violence, as well as great gentleness of manners. Nothing is more common than examples of both. Mildness of address is not always separated even from the rudest condition of human life, as the Otaheitans, and some other of the South-Sea islanders, abundantly testify.708 “The savages of North America are affectionate in their carriage, and in their conversations pay a mutual attention and regard, says Charlevoix, more tender and more engaging, than what we profess in the ceremonial of polished societies.”709

The causes which seem to account for these effects are partly physical, and partly moral. Where the commodities of life, by a happy union of climate and soil, are abundant, gentleness of manners, as appears by the traditions respecting the golden or pastoral age, is by no means unnatural to men in the earliest period of improvement: The savage, involved in a continual struggle with want, who sees himself and his children every day exposed to perish with hunger, is, by a sort of necessity, rapacious, harsh, unfeeling, and cruel. The species of polity under which the national character is formed is perhaps to a still greater degree the cause of the diversity which we now contemplate. Where the mind is free, and may vent its passions with little fear, the nation, while ignorant and rude, is also fierce and impetuous: Where slavery prevails, and any departure from the most perfect obsequiousness is followed with the most direful consequences, an insinuating and fawning behaviour is the interest, and thence becomes the habit, of the people.

With the same causes are connected other leading features in the character of the Hindus. They are remarkably prone to flattery; the most prevailing mode of address from the weak to the strong, while men are still ignorant and unreflecting.710 The Hindus are full of dissimulation and falsehood, the universal concomitants of oppression.711 The vices of falsehood, indeed, they carry to a height almost unexampled among the other races of men. Judicial mendacity is more than common; it is almost universal. “Perjury,” said Sir William Jones, to the Grand Jury at Calcutta, “seems to be committed by the meanest, and encouraged by some of the better sort among the Hindus and Mussulmans, with as little remorse, as if it were a proof of ingenuity, or even a merit.”712—” I have many reasons to believe, and none to doubt, that affidavits of every imaginable fact may as easily be procured in the streets and markets of Calcutta, especially from the natives, as any other article of traffic.”713 Speaking of the forms of an oath, among the Hindus, he says, “But such is the corrupt state even of their erroneous religion, that if the most binding form on the consciences of men could be known and established, there would be few consciences to be bound by it.”714

I have not enumerated the religion of the Hindus as one among the causes of that gentleness, which has been remarked in their deportment. This religion has produced a practice, which has strongly engaged the curiosity of Europeans; a superstitious care of the life of the inferior animals. A Hindu lives in perpetual terror of killing even an insect; and hardly any crime can equal that of being unintentionally the cause of death to any animal of the more sacred species. This feeble circumstance, however, is counteracted by so many gloomy and malignant principles, that their religion, instead of humanizing the character, must have had no inconsiderable effect in fostering that disposition to revenge, that insensibility to the sufferings of others, and often that active cruelty, which lurks under the smiling exterior of the Hindu. “Although the killing of an animal of the ox kind,” says Buchanan, “is by all Hindus considered as a kind of murder, I know no creature whose sufferings equal those of the labouring cattle of Hindustan.”715 No other race of men are perhaps so little friendly, and beneficent to one another as the Hindus. “Dysenteries,” says Dr. Tenant, speaking of the salt manufacturers, “are at one season, peculiarly fatal. The unhappy victims of this disorder are avoided as infectious by their companions, and suffered to pine without receiving either that aid or consolation, which compassion usually pays to the wretched.”716 “The Bengalese,” says another traveller, “will seldom assist each other, unless they happen to be friends or relations, and then the service that they render only consists in carrying the sufferer to the water of the Ganges, to let him die there, or be carried away by the stream.”717 Le Couteur remarks, that “men accustomed from their infancy to abstain from every kind of cruelty towards brutes, ought naturally to be humane and benevolent towards their own species; and this would infallibly be the case, if the same religion had not hardened the hearts of the superior casts; for they hold those that are born their inferiors, as beings below even the most worthless animals: they take away the life of a man with less scruple than we kill a fowl. To strike a cow would be sacrilege; but a Bramin may put a man to death when he lists.”718

It commonly happens that in a rude period of society, the virtue of hospitality, generously and cordially displayed, helps to cast into the shade the odious passions which adhere to man in his uncultivated state. The unhappy circumstances, religious and political, of the Hindu, have tended to eradicate even this, the virtue of a rude age, from his breast. After noticing in various parts of his journey, the striking instances which he witnessed of the want of hospitality, Dr. Buchanan says in one passage, “I mention these difficulties, which are very frequently met with by travellers in all parts of India where Europeans have not long resided, to show the inhospitable nature of its inhabitants.” For one of his sepoys, who was seized with an acute disease, and left in agony by the side of the road, he could not, except by force, in a large village obtain a cot, though he was assured there was one in every house.

The ancient literature of the Hindus affords many proofs that no inconsiderable degree of ferocity has at all times been mingled with the other ingredients of their character. The Yadavas, a sacred race, the kindred of Crishna, in a drunken fray, took arms and butchered one another, to the utter extinction of the race.719 One of the most remarkable stories in the celebrated book, called Hetopadesu, is that of a man who cut off his wife's nose, because she would not speak to him.720 As the performance of that great religious ceremony, called a Jug, is sufficient to extort from the divinity whatever boon the true performer demands, the following law makes provision against the most cool, intense, and persevering malignity of which human nature appears to be susceptible. “If a man performs a jug to procure the death of any innocent person, the magistrate shall fine him 200 puns of cowries.”721 If the gentleness, too, of the punishment, about ten shillings,722 be a sign, the indignation, which so atrocious a purpose excites, is far from remarkable. That murder by the most odious means, by poison, is looked upon in the same venial light, the following law bears equal testimony; “If a man, to procure the death of any innocent person, by any contrivance, causes him to drink a potion, or otherwise meditates his death, the magistrate shall fine him 200 puns of cowries.”723 The cool reflection which attends the villainy of the Hindu, has often surprised the European. Mr. Holwell informs us, that, when he sat as a judge at Calcutta he had often heard the most atrocious murders avowed and defended by the criminals, on the ground of its being now the Cali age, when men are destined to be wicked.724

Notwithstanding the degree to which the furious passions enter into the character of the Hindu, all witnesses agree in representing him as a timid being. With more apparent capacity of supporting pain than any other race of men; and, on many occasions, a superiority to the fear of death, which cannot be surpassed, this people run from danger with more trepidation and eagerness than has been almost ever witnessed in any other part of the globe.725

It is the mixture of this fearfulness, with their antisocial passions, which has given existence to that litigiousness of character which almost all witnesses have ascribed to this ancient race. As often as courage fails them in seeking a more daring gratification to their hatred or revenge, their malignity finds a vent in the channel of litigation. “That pusillanimity and sensibility of spirit,” says Mr, Orme, “which renders the Gentoos incapable of supporting the contentions of danger, disposes them as much to prosecute litigious contests. No people are of more inveterate and steady resentments in civil disputes. The only instance in which they seem to have a contempt for money, is their profusion of it in procuring the redress and revenge of injuries at the bar of justice. Although they can, with great resignation, see themselves plundered to the utmost by their superiors, they become mad with impatience, when they think themselves defrauded of any part of their property by their equals. Nothing can be more adapted to the feminine spirit of a Gentoo, than the animosities of a lawsuit.”726

A modification of the same passions gives rise to another, and seemingly a strong ingredient in the Hindu character, a propensity to the war of contentious tongues. The following picture, if not finely, is at least clearly drawn. “The timidity of the Hindu may, in general, prevent his fighting, boxing, or shedding of blood; but it by no means restrains him from scolding and upbraiding his neighbours. In this respect they are the most litigious and quarrel-some of all men. Have two persons a misunderstanding? Let them meet in the street and they will upbraid each other for an hour together, with every foul epithet of abuse which their imagination can suggest, or their language supply. A few natives engaged in one of these bickerings display a furious gesticulation; a volubility of words and coarseness of expression which leave the eloquence of Billingsgate far behind.”727

The physical temperament of the Hindus, though an effect of some of the circumstances which have operated to the formation of their minds, has reflected a strong influence on their character. Their make is slender and delicate. Their shapes are in general fine. The female form, in particular, frequently attains in India its most exquisite proportions; and “their skins,” says Mr. Orme, speaking of the Hindu women, “are of a polish and softness beyond that of all their rivals on the globe.” The muscular strength, however, of the Hindus, is small; even less, according to the same accurate observer, than the appearance of their bodies, though expressive of weakness, would lead the spectator to infer. Their stature is in general considerably below the European standard; though such inferiority is more remarkable in the south, and diminishes as you advance toward the north.728

The extreme simplicity and lightness of the aliments used by the Hindu, and the smallness of his consumption, must, undoubtedly, have been among the causes of the lightness and feebleness observable in his frame. His food consists almost wholly of rice; and his drink is nothing but water: while his demands are satisfied with a pittance which appears extreme to the people of almost every other part of the world. The prohibition, by the Hindu religion, of the flesh of animals for food, has been sufficiently remarked. It is not such as to have produced by any means a total abstinence, but the quantity consumed is, no doubt, small. The great luxury of the Hindu is butter, prepared in a manner peculiar to himself, and called by him, ghee.729

But though the body of the Hindu is feeble, it is agile, in an extraordinary degree. Not only in those surprising contortions and feats, which constitute the art of the tumbler, do they excel almost all the nations in the world; but even in running and marching they equal, if not surpass, people of the most robust constitutions. “Their messengers will go fifty miles a day, for twenty or thirty days without intermission.” Their infantry, if totally unincumbered with burthens, which they could by no means support, will march faster, and with less weariness, than European.730

The delicacy of their texture is accompanied with great acuteness and sensibility in all the organs of sense. This not only gives them great advantages in some of the finest of the manual arts, as weaving, for example; the pliant fingers and exquisite touch of the Hindu being so peculiarly adapted to the handling of the finest threads: but it communicates a remarkable susceptibility to the mental organs. The Hindu is a sort of a sensitive plant. His imagination and passions are easily inflamed; and he has a sharpness and quickness of intellect which seems strongly connected with the sensibility of his outward frame.

Another remarkable circumstance in the character of the Hindus; in part, too, no doubt, the effect of corporeal weakness, though an effect in some sort opposite to that excitability which we have immediately remarked, is the inertness of disposition, with which all men have been so forcibly struck in observing the conduct of this peculiar race. The love of repose reigns in India with more powerful sway, than in any other region probably of the globe. “It is more happy to be seated than to walk; it is more happy to sleep than to be awake; but the happiest of all is death.” Such is one of the favourite sayings, most frequently in the mouths of this listless tribe, and most descriptive of their habitual propensities. Phlegmatic indolence pervades the nation. Few pains, to the mind of a Hindu, are equal to that of bodily exertion; the pleasure must be intense which he prefers to that of its total cessation.731

This listless apathy and corporeal weakness of the natives of Hindustan, have been ascribed to the climate under which they live. But other nations, subject to the influence of as warm a sun, are neither indolent nor weak; the Malays for example, the Arabians, the Chinese.732 The savage is listless and indolent under every clime. In general, this disposition must arise from the absence of the motives to work; because the pain of moderate labour is so very gentle, that even feeble pleasures suffice to overcome it; and the pleasures which spring from the fruits of labour are so many and great, that the prospect of them, where allowed to operate, can seldom fail to produce the exertions which they require. There is a state of barbarity and rudeness which implies, perhaps, a weakness of mind too great to be capable of perceiving, with a clearness sufficient to operate upon the will, the benefits of labour. This, however, is a state beyond which the Hindus have long since passed; and there is but one cause, to which, among the Hindus, the absence of the motives for labour can be ascribed; their subjection to a wretched government, under which the fruits of labour were never secure.733

The languid and slothful habits of the Hindu appear to have prescribed even his amusements and diversions. They are almost all of the sedentary and inactive kind. The game of paucheess, which bears a resemblance to chess and draughts, and is played by two natives, reclining on their sides, with a small chequered carpet placed between them, is the favourite amusement of this indolent race. Wonderful is the patience and interest with which, we are told, they watch and plan the evolutions of this languid game.734 The mind in vacuity droops and pines; even where the body is the most gratified by repose: and in the rude state of society, when interesting objects seldom occur, the passion for play is a general resource. The Hindus, accordingly, appear to have been at all times deeply infected with the vices of gaming. In that celebrated poem, the Mahabarat, Judishter, though celebrated as a model of kingly wisdom, and his four brothers, all eminent men, are represented as losing their fortunes, and their very kingdoms, at dice. The laws, as usual, are ambiguous and contradictory. All gaming is pronounced unlawful; yet, according to the Gentoo Code, parties may game before an agent of the magistrate, to whom in that case a half of the winnings belongs.735

A fondness for those surprising feats of bodily agility and dexterity which form the arts of the tumbler and the juggler, is a feature in the character of the Hindu. It is a passive enjoyment which corresponds with the passiveness of his temper; and it seems in general to be adapted to the taste of all men in a similar state of society. Our Saxon ancestors were much addicted to this species of amusement; and their tumblers and jugglers had arrived at great proficiency.736 The passion of the Chinese for those diversions is known to be excessive, and the powers of their performers, almost incredible.737 This was one of the favourite entertainments of the ancient Mexicans; and their surprising dexterity and skill seem hardly to have yielded to that of the Hindus and Chinese. Clavigero concludes a minute and interesting account of the astonishing feats of the Mexican performers, by remarking, that, “the first Spaniards, who were witnesses of these and other exhibitions of the Mexicans, were so much astonished at their agility, that they suspected some supernatural power assisted them, forgetting to make a due allowance for the progress of the human genius when assisted by application and labour.”738

A taste for buffoonery is very generally a part of the character of a rude people; as appears by the buffoons, who, under the name of fools, were entertained by our Gothic ancestors in the courts of princes and the palaces of the great. Among the Hindus, this source of amusement was an object of so much importance, as to become the subject of legislative enactment. “The magistrate,” says the Gentoo Code, “shall retain in his service a great number of buffoons or parasites, jesters, and dancers, and athletics.”739

Story-telling, which entirely harmonizes with the Hindu tone of mind, is said to be a favourite diversion.740 The recitations of the bards, with which the people of Europe were formerly so much delighted, afforded an entertainment of the same description. The stories of the Hindus consist of the wildest fictions; and as almost all their written narratives are in verse, their spoken stories, it is probable, like the effusions of the bards, contained occasionally more or less of the measure and elevation of verse.741 Music and dancing form a part of their entertainments; the latter, however, they enjoy as spectators chiefly, not performers.

Notwithstanding the indolence and inactivity of the Hindus, hunting, which is in general so favourite a sport of man in his uncivilized state, is capable of calling forth their most strenuous exertions. The different classes seem not only to forget their habitual languor and timidity, but their still more inveterate prejudices of caste, and join together in pursuing the tenants of the woods and mountains with an ardour, enterprise and patience, which no other people can surpass.742

It is curious that avarice, which seems but little consistent with sloth, or that insecurity with regard to property which so bad a government as theirs implies forms a more remarkable ingredient in the national character of the Hindus, than in that of any other people. It is a passion congenial to a weak and timid mind, unwarmed by the social affections. They are almost universally penurious;743 and where placed in situations in which their insatiable desire of gain can meet with its gratification, it is not easy to surpass their keenness and assiduity in the arts of accumulation.744 “Slavery,” says Mr. Orme, “has sharpened the natural fineness of all the spirits of Asia. From the difficulty of obtaining, and the greater difficulty of preserving, the Gentoos are indefatigable in business, and masters of the most exquisite dissimulation in all affairs of interest. They are the acutest buyers and sellers in the world, and preserve through all their bargains a degree of calmness, which baffles all the arts that can be opposed against it.”745 The avaricious disposition of the Hindus is deeply stamped in their maxims of prudence and morality. Thus, they say: “From poverty a man cometh to shame. Alas! the want of riches is the foundation of every misfortune.—It is better to dwell in a forest haunted by tigers and lions, than to live amongst relations after the loss of wealth.”746

The mode of transacting bargains among the Hindus is sufficiently peculiar to deserve description. By a refinement of the cunning and deceitful temper of a rude people, the business is performed secretly, by tangible signs. The buyer and seller seat themselves opposite to one another, and covering their hands with a cloth, perform all the most subtile artifices of chaffering, without uttering a word, by means of certain touches and signals of the fingers, which they mutually understand.747

The simplicity of the houses, dress, and furniture of the Hindus correspond with that of their diet. “The Indian houses,” says Sonnerat, “display nothing of oriental magnificence.”748 Those of the poor, even in towns, are built of mud, sometimes of brick, and thatched. “Brahmens and religious people plaster the pavement, and sometimes the walls, with cow-dung; and although this act proceeds from a spirit of religion, yet it is of use in keeping out insects.”749 The furniture, which is almost nothing in the houses of the poor, is in the highest degree scanty and simple even in those of the rich. Mats or carpets for the floor, on which they are accustomed both to sit and to lie, with a few earthen and other vessels for the preparation of their victuals and for their religious ceremonies, form the inventory in general of their household goods.750

From the frequency and care with which the Hindus perform religious ablutions, the Europeans, prone from partial appearances to draw flattering conclusions, painted them, at first, as in the colours of so many other virtues, so likewise in those of cleanliness. Few nations are surpassed by the Hindus, in the total want of physical purity, in their streets, houses, and persons. Mr. Foster, whose long residence in India, and knowledge of the country, render him an excellent witness, says of the narrow streets of Benares; “In addition to the pernicious effect which must proceed from a confined atmosphere, there is, in the hot season, an intolerable stench arising from the many pieces of stagnated water dispersed in different quarters of the town. The filth also which is indiscriminately thrown into the streets, and there left exposed, (for the Hindus possess but a small portion of general cleanliness) add to the compound of ill smells so offensive to the European inhabitants of this city.”751 Dr. Buchanan informs us, that “the earthen pots in which the Hindus boil their milk, are in general so nasty, that after this operation no part of the produce of the dairy is tolerable to Europeans, and whatever they use their own servants must prepare.”752 “The Hindoo,” says Mr. Scott Waring, “who bathes constantly in the Ganges, and whose heart equals in purity the whiteness of his vest, will allow this same white robe to drop nearly off with filth before he thinks of changing it. Histories, composed in the closet, of the manners of extensive nations may possess every beauty; for as facts do not restrain the imagination, nor impose rules on poetic license, the fancy of the historian enjoys an uninterrupted range in the regions of fiction.”753

To a superficial view, it appears surprising that overstrained sentiments in regard to the ceremonial of behaviour are a mark of the uncivilized state of the human mind. The period when men have but just emerged from barbarism, and have made the first feeble steps in improvement, is the period at which formalities in the intercourse of social life are the most remarkably multiplied, at which the importance attached to them is the greatest, and at which the nice observance of them is the most rigidly exacted. In modern Europe, as manners have refined, and knowledge improved, we have thrown off the punctilious ceremonies which constituted the fine breeding of our ancestors; and adopted more and more of simplicity in the forms of intercourse. Among the inhabitants of Hindustan, the formalities of behaviour are multiplied to excess; and the most important bonds of society are hardly objects of greater reverence.754 Some of their rules breathe that spirit of benevolence, and of respect for the weak, which begins to show itself partially at an early period of society, and still wants much of its proper strength at a late one. The distinctions of giving way on the road are thus marked in the Gentoo code; a man with sight, to a man blind; a man with hearing to a man deaf; a man to a woman; a man empty-handed to a man with a burthen; an inferior person to a superior; a man in health to a sick person; and all persons to a Brahmen.755 Not a few of their rules bear curious testimony to the unpolished state of society in which they were prescribed. “If a man,” says one of their laws,” having accepted another's invitation, doth not eat at his house, then he shall be obliged to make good all the expense that was incurred in consequence of the invitation.”756 When a Hindu gives an entertainment, he seats himself in the place of greatest distinction; and all the most delicate and costly of the viands are placed before him. The company sit according to their quality, the inferior sort at the greatest distance from the master, each eating of those dishes only which are placed before him, and they continually decreasing in fineness, as they approach the place of the lowest of the guests.757

The attachment which the Hindus, in common with all ignorant nations, bear to astrology, is a part of their manners exerting a strong influence upon the train of their actions. “The Hindus of the present age,” says a partial observer, “do not undertake any affair of consequence without consulting their astrologers, who are always Brahmens.”758 The belief of witchcraft and sorcery continues universally prevalent; and is every day the cause of the greatest enormities. It not unfrequently happens that Brahmens, tried for murder before the English judges, assign as their motive to the crime, that the murdered individual had enchanted them. No fewer than five unhappy persons in one district were tried and executed for witchcraft, so late as the year 1792. The villagers themselves assume the right of sitting in judgment on this imaginary offence; and their sole instruments of proof are the most wretched of all incantations. Branches of the Saul tree, for example, one for each of the suspected individuals, inscribed with her name, are planted in water. If any of them withers within a certain time, the devoted female, whose name it bears, suffers death as a witch.759
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

Postby admin » Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:27 am

NOTES

NOTE A. p. 286.


“5. This universe existed only in the first divine idea yet unexpanded, as if involved in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep;

“6. Then the sole self-existing power, himself undiscerned, but making this world discernible, with five elements and other principles of nature, appeared with undiminished glory, expanding his idea, or dispelling the gloom.

“7. He, whom the mind alone can perceive, whose essence eludes the external organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from eternity, even he, the soul of all beings, whom no being can comprehend, shone forth in person.

“8. He, having willed to produce various beings from his own divine substance, first with a thought created the waters, and placed in them a productive seed:

“9. The seed became an egg bright as gold, blazing like the luminary with a thousand beams: and in that egg he was born himself, in the form of Brahma, the great forefather of all spirits.

“10. The waters are called nara, because they were the production of Nara, or the Spirit of God; and, since they were his first ayana, or place of motion, he thence is named Narayana, or moving on the waters.

“11. From That Which is, the first cause, not the object of sense, existing every where in substance, not existing to our perception, without beginning or end, was produced the divine male, famed in all worlds under the appellation of Brahma.

“12. In that egg the great power sat inactive a whole year of the Creator, at the close of which, by his thought alone, he caused the egg to divide itself.

“13. And from its two divisions he framed the heaven above and the earth beneath: in the midst he placed the subtil ether, the eight regions, and the permanent receptacle of waters.

“14. From the supreme soul he drew forth mind, existing substantially though unperceived by sense, immaterial; and before mind, or the reasoning power, he produced consciousness, the internal monitor, the ruler:

“15. And, before them both, he produced the great principle of the soul, or first expansion of the divine idea; and all vital forms endued with the three qualities of goodness, passion, and darkness; and the five perceptions of sense, and the five organs of sensation.

“16. Thus, having at once pervaded, with emanations from the Supreme Spirit, the minutest portions of six principles immensely operative, consciousness and the five perceptions, he framed all creatures;

“17. And since the minutest particles of visible nature have a dependence on those six emanations from God, the wise have accordingly given the name of sarira or depending on six, that is, the ten organs on consciousness, and the five elements on as many perceptions, to his image or appearance in visible nature.

“18. Thence proceed the great elements endued with peculiar powers, and mind with operations infinitely subtil, the unperishable cause of all apparent forms.

“19. This universe, therefore, is compacted from the minute portions of those seven divine and active principles, the great soul, or first emanation, consciousness, and five perceptions; a mutable universe from immutable ideas.

“20. Among them each succeeding element acquires the quality of the preceding; and, in as many degrees as each of them is advanced, with so many properties is it said to be endued.

“21. He too first assigned to all creatures distinct names, distinct acts, and distinct occupations; as they had been revealed in the pre-existing Veda.

“22. He, the supreme ruler, created an assemblage of inferior deities, with divine attributes and pure souls; and a number of genii exquisitely delicate; and he prescribed the sacrifice ordained from the beginning.

“23. From fire, from air, and from the sun he milked out, as it were, the three primordial Vedas, named Rich, Yajush, and Saman, for the due performance of the sacrifice.

“24. He gave being to time and the divisions of time, to the stars also, and to the planets, to rivers, oceans, and mountains, to level plains, and uneven valleys.

“25. To devotion, speech, complacency, desire, and wrath, and to the creation, which shall presently be mentioned; for he willed the existence of all those created things.

“26. For the sake of distinguishing actions, he made a total difference between right and wrong, and enured these sentient creatures to pleasure and pain, cold and heat, and other opposite pairs.

“27. With very minute transformable portions, called natras, of the five elements, all this perceptible world was composed in fit order;

“28. And in whatever occupation the supreme lord first employed any vital soul, to that occupation the same soul attaches itself spontaneously, when it receives a new body again and again:

“29. Whatever quality, noxious or innocent, harsh or mild, unjust or just, false or true, he conferred on any being at its creation, the same quality enters it of course on its future births;

“30. As the six seasons of the year attain respectively their peculiar marks in due time, and of their own accord, even so the several acts of each embodied spirit attend it naturally.

“31. That the human race might be multiplied, he caused the Brahmen, the Cshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Sudra (so named from the scripture, protection, wealth, and labour) to proceed from his mouth, his arm, his thigh, and his foot.

“32. Having divided his own substance, the mighty Power became half male, half female, or nature active and passive; and from that female he produced Viraj:

“33. Know me, O most excellent of Brahmens, to be that person, whom the male power VIRAJ, having performed austere devotion, produced by himself; me, the secondary framer of all this visible world.

“34. It was I, who, desirous of giving birth to a race of men, performed very difficult religious duties, and first produced ten lords of created being, eminent in holiness,

“35. Marichi, Atri, Angeras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Cratu, Prachetas, or Dacsha, Vasishtha, Bhrigu, and Narada:

“36. They, abundant in glory, produced seven other Menus, together with deities, and in the mansions of deities, and Maharshis, or great Sages, unlimited in power.

“37. Benevolent genii, and fierce giants, blood-thirsty savages, heavenly quiristers, nymphs and demons, huge serpents, and snakes of smaller size, birds of mighty wing, and separate companies of Pitris, or progenitors of mankind;

“38. Lightnings and thunder-bolts, clouds and coloured bows of Indra, falling meteors, earth-rending vapours, comets, and luminaries of various degrees;

“39. Horse-faced sylvans, apes, fish, and a variety of birds, tame cattle, deer, men, and ravenous beasts with two rows of teeth;

“40. Small and large reptiles, moths, lice, fleas, and common flies, with every biting gnat, and immovable substances of distinct sorts.” (Instit. of Menu, ch. 1.)

Such is the account of the creation which is contained in one of the principal standards of Hindu faith; such is one of the chief documents from which we can draw precise ideas respecting the religious principles of the Hindus. The darkness, the vagueness, and the confusion, which reign in it, need not be remarked; for by these the Hindu mythology is throughout distinguished. The first of the propositions, as it now stands, can be adequately designated only by the familiar appellative, nonsense; the ideas are heterogeneous, and incompatible. “This universe” it is said, “existed only in the first divine idea.” When any thing is said to exist in idea, the meaning is, that it is conceived by the mind, or, in common language, that it is an idea in the mind. This universe then, according to the above passage, was conceived by the divine mind before it was actually produced, or, in other words, it was an idea in the divine mind. This idea existed in the divine mind “yet unexpanded.” But what are we to understand by an idea in the divine mind “unexpanded?” In regard to human thought an idea may be said to be unexpanded, when something is conceived very generally and obscurely; and it may be said to be expanded when the thing is conceived minutely, distinctly, and in all its parts. Are we then to understand by the idea of the universe being unexpanded in the divine mind, that the universe was conceived by it only generally, obscurely, indistinctly, and that it was not till creation was actually performed, that the divine idea was clear, full, and precise? How infinitely removed is this from the sublime conception which we entertain of the Divine Being; to whose thoughts all his works past, present, and to come, and every thing in the universe from eternity to eternity, are present always, essentially, perfectly, in all their parts, properties, and relations! This divine idea is still farther described: it existed “as if involved in darkness.” When an idea is involved in darkness, it is an idea not perfectly understood; an apprehension only compatible with the most imperfect notions of the divine nature. It existed “imperceptible.” If this means by the senses, all ideas are imperceptible; if it means by the mind, it is impossible, for the very essence of an idea consists in its being perceived by the mind. It existed “undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep.” What sort of an idea could that be in the divine mind which the divine mind could not define, that mind by which it was formed? If the meaning be, that it could not be defined by any other mind; neither can the idea, not yet expressed, which exists in the mind of the most foolish of men. “Not discoverable by reason;” does this mean that the divine reason did not discover the divine idea; or does it mean that human reason could not discover it? An idea in the mind of another being is not discoverable to man by reason, but by enunciation. The last expression is the most extraordinary; “as if immersed in sleep:” “an idea immersed in sleep!” An idea too in the divine mind immersed in sleep! What notion can be formed of this?

But it must be explained that this incoherence and absurdity is not the work of Menu, or of the author, whoever he was, of the treatise which goes by his name. It is a common plan in India, for a commentator who is explaining a book, to insert between the words of the text such expressions as to him appear necessary to render the sense of the author clear and distinct. This has been done by a commentator of the name of Culluca, in regard to the ordinances of Menu; and his gloss or commentary, interworded with the text, Sir William Jones has translated along with his author. As he has, very judiciously, however, printed the interwoven expressions of the commentator in italics, it is easy for the reader to separate them, and to behold the sense of the original unadulterated. According to this expedient, the words of Menu appear thus: “This existed only in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable, undiscovered, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep.” It seems remarkably the genius of the ancient Sanscrit writings to be elliptical, and the adjective pronouns specially are very frequently used without a substantive. “This,” in the passage which we are now examining, is in that situation. The mind of the reader is left to supply the word which the sense of the context demands. This—every thing; this—whole; this—universe; such is the manner in which the mind easily here suggests the requisite idea; and when this is done, the incoherence and absurdity which the supplement of Culluca engendered, is entirely dispelled. The passage presents clearly and unambiguously, a description, a very vague and unmeaning description, it must be owned, of that chaos of which the Greeks and Romans drew so striking and awful a picture, and of which the belief appears to have been so widely and generally diffused. The notion which Culluca endeavoured to engraft, is remarkable. It is no other than the celebrated Platonic principle of the preexistence of all things in the divine mind, which Culluca, it is evident, neither understood nor could apply, and with which he made such havoc on the genuine sense of his author. It is probable that he borrowed the idea from some foreign source, that it pleased him as preferable to the more rude conception of a chaos, and that he resolved, according to the invariable rule of the Brahmens, to give his own order the credit of it, by incorporating it with the doctrines of the sacred authors.

There is a remarkable coincidence, and there is a remarkable discrepancy, between this passage in the Institutes of Menu, and the following at the beginning of the book of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” The coincidence appears in the chaotic description here applied to the earth: the discrepancy consists in this, that the Jewish legislator informs us of the previous creation of the shapeless mass, the Hindu legislator describes it as antecedent to all creation.

This chaos, this universe, then, in its dark, imperceptible, undefinable state, existed according to Menu, antecedent to creation. This too was the idea of the Greeks and Romans, who thence believed in the eternity of matter.
It is doubtful, from the extreme vagueness of the Hindu language, whether they had carried their thoughts so far as to conceive the question respecting the origin of matter; but as its eternity is implied in several of their doctrines, so it appears to be recognized in some of their expressions. It appears, indeed, that they were unable to make any clear distinction between matter and spirit, but rather considered the latter to be some extraordinary refinement of the former. Thus even the Divine Being, though they called him soul, and spirit, they certainly regarded as material. In the passage already quoted, it is said, “that he willed to produce various beings from his own divine substance.” Now what can be meant by substance, if not material substance? Besides, from material substance alone can material beings be produced. But the first thing which we are told was produced from the divine substance, was water. It is worth remarking, at the same time, that in other places water appears to be spoken of as uncreated, and as the material out of which all other things were produced. A passage describing the creation, translated from the Yajur Veda by Mr. Colebrooke, commences thus: “Waters alone there were; this world originally was water. In it the lord of creation moved, having become air.” [Asiat. Res. viii. 452.]
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

Postby admin » Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:27 am

NOTE B. p. 289.

Another and a very remarkable account of the creation of living creatures is found in the Vedas, and translated by Mr. Colebrooke. “This variety of forms was, before the production of body, soul, bearing a human shape. Next, looking round, that primeval Being saw nothing but himself; and he first said, I am I. Therefore his name was I: and thence even now, when called, a man first answers, it is I, and then declares any other name which appertains to him.—Since he, being anterior to all this which seeks supremacy, did consume by fire all sinful obstacles to his own supremacy, therefore does the man, who knows this truth, overcome him, who seeks to be before him.—He felt dread; and, therefore, man fears, when alone. But he reflected 'since nothing exists besides myself, why should I fear?’ Thus his terror departed from him; for what should he dread, since fear must be of another?—He felt not delight; and, therefore, man delights not when alone. He wished the existence of another; and instantly he became such as is man and woman in mutual embrace. He caused this his own self to fall in twain; and thus became a husband and a wife. Therefore was this body, so separated, as it were an imperfect moiety of himself: for so Yajnyawalcya has pronounced it. This blank, therefore, is completed by woman. He approached her; and thence were human beings produced.—She reflected, doubtingly; How can he, having produced me from himself, incestuously approach me? I will now assume a disguise. She became a cow; and the other became a bull and approached her; and the issue were kine. She was changed into a mare, and he into a stallion; one was turned into a female ass, and the other into a male one: thus did he again approach her, and the one-hoofed kind was the offspring. She became a female goat, and he a male one; she was an ewe, and he a ram: thus he approached her, and goats and sheep were the progeny. In this manner, did he create every existing pair whatsoever, even to the ants and minutest insect.” See a curious Discourse of Mr. Colebrooke on the Vedas, or Sacred Writings of the Hindus, Asiat. Research. viii. 440, 441.
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

Postby admin » Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:27 am

NOTE C. p. 341. daily ceremomies of the brahmens.

As he rises from sleep, a Brahmen must rub his teeth with a proper withe, or a twig of the racimeferous fig tree, repeating prayers. Should this sacred duty be omitted, so great a sin is incurred, that the benefit is lost of all religious rites performed by him. The next circumstance of importance is, the deposit of the withe after it has done its office. It must be carefully thrown away in a place free from impurities; that is, where none of those religious stains, which are so multiplied among the Hindus, and must infect so many places, have been imprinted. When the business of the teeth and of the twig is accomplished, ablution next engages the attention of the Brahmen. The duty of the bath, particularly in the months of Magha, Pholgima, and Cartica, is no less efficacious than a rigid penance for the expiation of sin. Standing in a river, or in other water, the worshipper, sipping water, which is a requisite preliminary to all rites, and sprinkling it before him, recites inaudibly the gayatri, or holiest text of the Veda, with the names of the seven worlds. He next throws water eight times on his head, or towards the sky, and at last upon the ground, to destroy the demons who wage war with the gods, reciting prayers, of which the first may be received as a specimen: “O waters, since ye afford us delight, grant us present happiness, and the rapturous sight of the supreme God.” When these ceremonies and prayers are performed, he plunges three times into the water, and each time repeats the expiatory text which recites the creation, and having then washed his mantle, the morning ablution is finished. If he is an householder, it is his duty to bathe again at noon, and if he belongs to an order of devotion, both at noon and in the evening, with ceremonies, differing somewhat in the words and forms, but the same in spirit and substance.760

An important part of the worship of the Brahmen then succeeds. Coming out of the water, and putting on his mantle, he sits down to worship the rising sun. This great duty is performed by first tying the lock of hair on the crown of his head, while he holds much cusa grass in his left hand, and three blades of it in his right, or wears a ring of it on the third finger of that hand, reciting at the same time the gayatri. He then sips water three times, repeats the mysterious names of the seven worlds, recites again the gayatri, rubs his hands as if washing them, touches with his wet hand his feet, head, breast, eyes, ears, nose and navel, and again three times sips water. If, however, he should sneeze, or spit, he must obey the text which says, “after sneezing, spitting, blowing his nose, sleeping, putting on apparel or dropping tears, a man should not immediately sip water, but first touch his right ear.” The sipping, however, being at last performed, he passes his hand filled with water, briskly round his neck, while he prays: “May the waters preserve me!” He then shuts his eyes and meditates in silence. Till we got better information, very wonderful ideas were formed of the sublimity of the Brahmen's meditations. On this, one of the most sacred and solemn of all occasions, while he meditates in silence, with his eyes shut, and every mark of intense thought, we are informed, that he is only “figuring to himself, that Brahma, with five faces and a red complexion, resides in his navel; Vishnu, with four arms and a black complexion, in his heart; and Siva, with five faces and a white co lexion, in his forehead.” Nor is this the whole of his meditation. He ponders next on the holiest of texts; and this sublime duty is performed in the following manner. Closing the left nostril with the two longest fingers of the right hand, he draws his breath through the right nostril, and then closing it with his thumb, and suspending his breath, he repeats to himself the gayatri, the mysterious names of the worlds, and the sacred text of Brahme; after which, raising his fingers from the left nostril, he emits the breath which he had suppressed, and thus ends one part of his meditation. The same process is repeated three times and the whole is then concluded. This meditation, says Yajnyawalcya, “implies, Om, (aum,) earth, sky, heaven, middle region, place of births, mansion of the blessed, abode of truth. We meditate on the adorable light of the resplendent generator which governs our intellects, which is water, lustre, savour, immortal faculty of thought, Brahme, earth, sky, and heaven.”761 He then stands on one foot, resting the other against his ancle or heel, and looking towards the east, while his hands are held open before him in a hollow form, and in that posture he recites prayers to the sun, of which the following is one of the most remarkable: “Thou art self-existent, thou art the most excellent ray; thou givest effulgence, grant it unto me.” When all these ceremonies are performed, the oblation or offering is the next part of the service. It consists of tila, flowers, barley, water, and red sanders wood; it is put into a vessel of copper in the shape of a boat, and placed on the head of the votary, who presents it with fresh prayers, and holy texts. In the last place comes the invocation of the gayatri. It is first addressed in these words: “Thou art light; thou art seed; thou art immortal life; thou art effulgent; beloved by the gods, defamed by none, thou art the holiest sacrifice.” It is then recited measure by measure; next the two first measures are recited as one hemistich; and the third measure as the other; lastly, the three measures are repeated without interruption. It is addressed again in the following words; “Divine text, who dost grant our best wishes, whose name is trisyllable, whose import is the power of the Supreme Being; come, thou mother of the Vedas, who didst spring from Brahme, be constant here.” It is then, along with the triliteral monosyllable, and the names of the three lower worlds, pronounced inaudibly a hundred, or a thousand times, or as often as practicable, while the repetitions are counted upon a rosary of wild grains, or of gems set in gold. Additional prayers are recited, and the morning worship of the sun is thus terminated.762

The religious duties which fill up the remaining portion of the day are chiefly comprised in what are denominated the five sacraments. In a passage of the Institutes of Menu these are thus described; “Teaching and studying the scripture is the sacrament of the Veda: Offering cakes and water, the sacrament of the manes; An oblation to fire, the sacrament of the deities; Giving rice or other food to living creatures, the sacrament of spirits; Receiving guests with honour, the sacrament of men.”763 I shall endeavour by a very short illustration to convey an idea of each.

Preparatory to the study of the Veda must ablution be performed. Of this some ceremonies not yet described may be here introduced. “Let a Brahman at all times perform the ablution,” says the law of Menu, “with the pure part of his hand, denominated from the Veda, or with the part sacred to the Lord of creatures, or with that dedicated to the gods; but never with the part named from the Pitris: The pure part under the root of the thumb is called Brahma; that at the root of the little finger, Caya; that at the tips of the fingers, Daiva; and the part between the thumb and index, Pitrya. Let him first sip water thrice; then twice wipe his mouth, and lastly touch with water the six hollow parts of his head, [or his eyes, ears, and nostrils,] his breast and his head. He who knows the law, and seeks purity, will ever perform the ablution with the pure part of his hand, and with water neither hot nor frothy, standing in a lonely place, and turning to the east or the north. A Brahmen is purified by water that reaches his bosom; a Cshatriya, by water descending to his throat; a Vaisya, by water barely taken into his mouth; a Sudra, by water touched with the extremity of his lips.”764 Having concluded this part of the ceremony, and walked in a circle beginning from the south, he proceeds to the pronunciation of the syllable Aum. “A Brahmen, beginning and ending a lecture on the Veda, must always pronounce to himself the syllable Aum; for unless the syllable Aum precedes, his learning will slip away from him; and unless it follow, nothing will be long retained. If he have sitten on culms of cusa grass, with their points toward the east, and be purified by rubbing that holy grass on both his hands, and be further prepared by three suppressions of breath, each equal in time to five short vowels, he may then fitly pronounce Aum. Brahma milked out, as it were, from the three vedas, the letter A, the letter U, and the letter M, which form by their coalition the trillteral monosyllable, together with three mysterious words, earth, sky, heaven.”765 Turning his face towards the east, with his right hand toward the south, and his left hand towards the north, he then sits down, having the cusa grass before him, holding two blades of it on the tips of his left fingers, and placing on them his right hand with the palm turned upwards, and in this sacred position he meditates the gayatri. He then recites the due prayers and texts, and is thus prepared to begin the daily perusal of the Veda.766

The sacrament of the manes, which occupies the second place in the above text of Menu, is described at great length in that sacred volume. “Let the Brahmen smear with cow-dung a purified and sequestered piece of ground; and let him with great care select a place with a declivity toward the south. Having duly made an ablution with water, let him place with reverence the invited Brahmens, who have also performed their ablutions, one by one, on allotted seats purified with cusa grass, honouring them with fragrant garlands and sweet odours, and bringing for them water, with cusa grass and tila; then let him pour the oblation of clarified butter on the holy fire, and afterwards proceed to satisfy the manes of his ancestors. Having walked in order from east to south, and thrown into the fire all the ingredients of his oblation, let him sprinkle water on the ground with his right hand. From the remainder of the clarified butter having formed three balls of rice, let him offer them, with fixed attention, in the same manner as the water, his face being turned to the south: Then having offered those balls, after due ceremonies, and with an attentive mind, to the manes of his father, his paternal grandfather, and great grandfather, let him wipe the same hand with the roots of cusa, which he had before used, for the sake of his paternal ancestors in the fourth, fifth, and sixth degrees, who are the partakers of the rice and clarified butter thus wiped off. Having made an ablution, returning toward the north, and thrice suppressing his breath slowly, let him salute the gods of the six seasons, and the Pitris. Whatever water remains in his ewer, let him carry back deliberately near the cakes of rice; and with fixed attention let him smell those cakes, in order as they were offered, and give part of them to the Brahmens. Having poured water, with cusa grass and tila, into the hands of the Brahmens, let him give them the upper part of the cakes, saying Swadha to the manes. Next, having himself brought with both hands a vessel full of rice, let him, still meditating on the Pitris, place it before the Brahmens without precipitation. Broths, potherbs, and other eatables accompanying the rice, together with milk and curds, clarified butter and honey, let him first place on the ground after he has made an ablution: let him add spiced puddings, and milky messes of various sorts, roots of herbs and ripe fruits, savoury meats and sweet-smelling drinks: then being duly purified, and with perfect presence of mind, let him take up all the dishes one by one, and present them in order to the Brahmens, proclaiming their qualities. Himself being delighted, let him give delight to the Brahmens, and invite them to eat of the provisions by little and little; attracting them often with the dressed rice and other eatables. Let all the dressed food be very hot. Let not a chandala, a town boar, a cock, a dog, a woman in her courses, or an eunuch, see the Brahmens eating.”767 These, with a variety of prayers, and several other observances, are the obsequies to the manes of ancestors.

The oblations to fire, which are a most important part of the duties of the Hindu, are dignified with the title of the sacrament of the gods. I shall here premise the ceremonies attending the consecration of the fire, and the sacramental implements, though to all religious rites these may be regarded as introductory. In order to prepare the ground for the reception of the holy fire, the priest chooses a level spot four cubits square, free from all ceremonial impurities, covered with a shed, and this he smears with cow-dung. Next, having bathed and sipped water, he sits down with his face towards the east, and placing a vessel of water with cusa grass on his left, dropping his right knee, and resting on the span of his left hand, he draws, after an established rule, five consecrated lines, and gathering up the dust from the edges of them, throws it away toward the north-east, saying, “What was herein bad is thrown away.” Having, also, sprinkled the lines with water, and the ground being now prepared, he takes a lighted ember out of the vessels wherein he preserves the fire, and throwing it away, cries, “I dismiss far away carnivorous fire: May it go to the realm of Yama, bearing sin hence.” Then, placing the fire before him, he exclaims, “Earth! sky! heaven!” and adds, “This other harmless fire only remains here; well knowing its office, may it convey my oblation to the gods.” He now bestows upon it a name, conformable to the purpose for which he prefers it, and concludes this part of the ceremony by silently burning a log of wood one span long, smeared with clarified butter. The placing of the superintending priest is the next part of the duty. On very solemn occasions this is a real Brahmen; but in general a substitute is made for him of a bundle of cusa grass. He by whom the sacrifice is performed takes up the vessel of water, and keeping his right side towards the fire, walks round it: then he pours water near it, in an eastern direction, and spreads on it cusa grass: then he crosses, without sitting down, his right knee over his left; then takes up a single blade of grass between the thumb and ring-finger of his left hand; next throws it away towards the south-west, saying, “What was herein bad is cast away:” then he touches the water, resting the sole of his right foot on his left ankle, sprinkles the grass with water, after which he places on it his Brahmen made of cusa, saying to it, “Sit on this seat until thy fee be paid thee;” he then returns round the fire the same way by which he went, and sitting down again with his face towards the east names the earth inaudibly. If no profane word should hitherto have been spoken, for which atonement is requisite, he must next spread leaves of cusa grass on three sides of the fire; he begins with the eastern side, and lays three rows of leaves in such a manner that the tip of the one shall cover the root of the other; after this he blesses the ten regions of space, and rising a little puts some wood on the fire with a ladleful of clarified butter, while he meditates in silence on Brahma, the lord of creatures: next he takes up two leaves of the grass, and with another cutting off the length of a span, and saying, “Pure leaves be sacred to Vishnu,” he throws them into a vessel of copper, or other metal; he then takes up other two leaves, and holding the tips of them between the thumb and ring finger of his right hand, the roots between the thumb and ring finger of his left, he takes up, having the one hand crossed over the other, clarified butter in the curviture of the leaves, and throws some of it three several times into the fire. He then sprinkles the leaves with water, and throws them away; next, having sprinkled the vessel containing the clarified butter, he puts it on the fire and takes it off again three several times, when, having recited the proper prayers with cusa grass in both his hands, the ceremony of hallowing the butter is finished. That of hallowing the wooden ladle is performed by describing three times with the tip of his fore finger and thumb the figure 7 on the inside of it, and the figure 9 on the outside, by sprinkling water, having first dropped on one knee, from the palms of his hands, on the whole southern side of the fire, from west to east; on the western side from south to north, on the northern side, and then all around the fire, reciting prayers and sacred texts. Having next recited an expiatory prayer with cusa grass in both his hands, and having thrown the grass away, he has then finished the consecration of the sacrificial implements. It is only after all this is accomplished that he is prepared to begin the oblation to fire, of which the following is one of that variety of forms which it receives according to the rite intended to succeed. First, the priest burns silently a log of wood, smeared with clarified butter: next, he makes three oblations, by pouring each time a ladleful of clarified butter on the fire, and pronouncing severally the following prayers; “Earth! be this oblation efficacious.”—“Sky! be this oblation efficacious.”—“Heaven! be this oblation efficacious.” On some occasions the oblation is made a fourth time, and he says, “Earth! sky! Heaven! be this oblation efficacious.’ An offering of rice, milk, curds, and butter, is next performed, and the oblations accompanied with the names of the three worlds are repeated.768 “In his domestic fire, for dressing the food of all the gods,” says the law of Menu, “let a Brahmen make an oblation each day to these following divinities; first to Agni, god of fire, and to the lunar god, severally; then, to both of them at once; next, to the assembled gods; and afterwards to Dhanwantari god of medicine; to Cuhu, goddess of the day, when the new moon is discernible; to Anumati, goddess of the day after the opposition; to Prajapati, or the lord of creatures; to Dyava and Prithivi, goddesses of sky and earth; and lastly, to the fire of the good sacrifice. Having thus, with fixed attention, offered clarified butter in all quarters, proceeding from the east in a southern direction, to Indra, Yamu, Varuna, and the god Soma, let him offer his gift to animated creatures.”769

The fourth sacrament, or that of spirits, in the Institutes of Menu, is thus described: “Let him, saying, I salute the marats or winds, throw dressed rice near the door: saying, I salute the water gods, let him throw it in water; and let him throw it on his pestle and mortar, saying, I salute the gods of large trees. Let him do the like in the north-east, or near his pillow, to Sri, the goddess of abundance; in the south-west, or at the foot of his bed, to the propitious goddess Bhadracali; in the centre of his mansion, to Brahma, and his household god; to all the gods assembled, let him throw up his oblation in open air; by day, to the spirits who walk in light; and by night, to those who walk in darkness; in the building on his housetop, or behind his back, let him cast his oblation for the welfare of all creatures; and what remains let him give to the Pitris with his face toward the south.”770

Of those diurnal sacraments, which constitute so great a part of the duty of the Hindus, receiving guests with honour, which is denominated the sacrament of men, is the fifth. This is commonly, by English writers, interpreted “hospitality.” But we shall form a very erroneous notion of this sacramental service, if we confound it with the merely human and profane duty of receiving strangers beneficently from motives of humanity. This is a duty purely religious, confined to the twice-born and consecrated classes; and principally contrived for the benefit of the Brahmens; that for them, in all places, and on all occasions, every door may be open, and every table spread. “A Brahmen, coming as a guest, and not received with just honour, takes to himself all the reward of the kousekeeper's former virtue, even though he had been so temperate as to live on the gleanings of harvests, and so pious as to make oblations in five distinct fires.”771 A guest, in the Hindu sense, is not every man who may claim, or may stand in need of your hospitalities: A guest, according to the commentator, whom Mr. Colebrooke follows as his guide, is “a spiritual preceptor, a priest, an ascetick, a prince, a bridegroom, a friend.”772 “In the house of a Brahmen,” says the law of Menu, “a military man is not denominated a guest; nor a man of the commercial or servile cast;”773 so that a Brahmen, to whom are devoted the hospitalities of all the classes, is bound to return them to Brahmens alone. Among the religious ceremonies with which this sacrament is celebrated, a cow is tied on the northern side of the apartment, and a stool and other furniture placed for the guest, when the householder, rising up to bid him welcome, recites the prayer; “May she, who supplies obligations for religious worship, who constantly follows her calf, and who was the milch cow when Yama was the votary, abound with milk, and fulfil our wishes year after year.” The guest then sits down on the stool or cushion prepared for him, reciting the text of the Yajurveda, which says; “I step on this for the sake of food and other benefits, on this variously splendid footstool.” His host next presents to him a cushion made of twenty leaves of cusa grass, holding it up with both hands, and exclaiming, “the cushion! the cushion! the cushion!” which the guest accepts and places it on the ground under his feet, reciting prayers. This done, a vessel of water is presented to him, the host thrice exclaiming, “Water for ablutions!” Of this the guest declares his acceptance, and looking into the vessel cries, “Generous water! I view thee; return in the form of fertilizing rain from him from whom thou dost proceed.” He then takes some of it in the palms of both hands joined together, and throws it on his left foot, saying, “I wash my left foot, and fix prosperity in this realm;” in the same manner on the right foot, with a similar declaration; and lastly, on both feet, saying, “I wash first one and then the other; and lastly, both feet, that the realm may thrive, and intrepidity be gained.” With similar formalities is next presented and received, an arghya; that is, a vessel shaped like a boat, or a conch, filled with water, rice, and durva grass; when the guest pouring the water on his head, says, “Thou art the splendour of food; through thee may I become glorious.” The host, again presenting water, three times exclaims, “Take water to be sipped!” the guest, accepting it, says, “Thou art glorious, grant me glory!” These ceremonies being finished, the host fills a vessel with honey, curds, and clarified butter, and, covering it with another vessel, presents it to his guest, exclaiming three times, “Take the Madhuparca!” He, receiving, places it on the ground, and looking into it, says, “Thou art glorious, may I become so:” he tastes it three times, saying, “Thou art the sustenance of the glorious; thou art the nourishment of the splendid; thou art the food of the fortunate; grant me prosperity:” and then silently eats until he be satisfied. When this is done, he sips water; and touching his mouth and other parts of his body with his hand, he says, “May there be speech in my mouth; breath in my nostrils; sight in my eyeballs; hearing in my ears; strength in my arms; firmness in my thighs: may my limbs and members remain unhurt together with my soul.” Presents are then presented to him, suitable to the rank of the parties; and a barber who attends for the purpose, now exclaims, “The cow, the cow.” The guest then pronounces the following text: “Release the cow from the fetters of Varuna. May she subdue my foe. May she destroy the enemies both of my host and me. Dismiss the cow that she may eat grass and drink water.” At this intercession she is released, and thus the guest addresses her; “I have earnestly entreated this prudent person, saying, Kill not the innocent, harmless, cow, who is mother of Rudras, daughter of Vasus, sister of adityas, and the source of ambrosia.”774 Such is the mode in which the ceremonial duty of entertaining guests is celebrated, and such is an idea of the ceremonies which are included in the five daily sacraments of the Hindus.

As the daily ceremonies, however, in their full detail, are sufficient to engross the whole time of the votary; for those on whom the functions of society devolve, some alleviation of the burthen, or rather, in the Hindu notion, some restriction of the privilege, was necessarily devised: and while the sanctity of entire accomplishment is reserved for the holy men who maintain perpetual fires, those who are engaged in the affairs of life are obliged to content themselves with a rite, called Vaiswadeva, in which all the daily sacraments, excepting that of the Veda, are comprised. It consists of oblations to the manes, to the gods, and spirits, and of donations to guests, all out of the food prepared for the daily meal; and is thus performed. Sitting down in a place free from impurities, and setting a vessel containing fire on his right hand, the worshipper hallows the ground by throwing away a lighted piece of cusa grass, while he recites the appropriate text,775 and then places his fire on the consecrated spot, repeating the prayer which is used, when the household and sacrificial fires are lighted by the attrition of wood.776 He next lays cusa grass on the eastern side of the fire, with its tips pointed towards the north, exclaiming, “I praise divine fire, primevally consecrated, the efficient performer of a solemn ceremony, the chief agent of a sacrifice, the most liberal giver of gems.”777 He spreads it on the southern side, with its points towards the east, reciting the commencement of the Yajurveda. 1. “I gather thee for the sake of rain. 2. I pluck thee” (at this he is supposed to break off the branch of a tree) “for the sake of strength. 3. Ye are” (he touches calves with the branch he had pulled off) “like unto air. 4. May the liberal generator of worlds make you” (here he touches, or is supposed to touch, milch-cows with the same branch) “happily reach this most excellent sacrifice.”778 In like manner he lays grass on the two other sides of the fire, on the western side with the tips to the north, crying, “Fire! approach to taste my offering; thou who art praised for the gift of oblations; sit down on this grass, thou, who art the complete performer of the solemn sacrifice;”779 and on the northern side with the tips pointed to the east, saying, “May divine waters be auspicious to us, &c.780 When all these ceremonies are completed, he stirs the fire, and sprinkles water upon it, after which, having his hands smeared with clarified butter, he offers food three several times, repeating, “Earth! sky! heaven!” Five similar oblations are next performed: one to the regent of fire; one to the god of medicine; one to the assembled deities; one to the lord of created beings; and one to the creator of the universe. Six more oblations are then offered with six prayers, every oblation having its separate prayer. 1. “Fire! thou dost expiate a sin against the gods; may this oblation be efficacious. 2. Thou dost expiate a sin against man. 3. Thou dost expiate a sin against the manes. 4. Thou dost expiate a sin against my own soul. 5. Thou dost expiate repeated sins. 6. Thou dost expiate every sin I have committed, whether wilfully or unintentionally: may this oblation be efficacious.” He next worships the fire, making an oblation with the following prayer; “Fire! seven are thy fuels; seven thy tongues; seven thy holy sages; seven thy beloved abodes; seven ways do seven sacrificers worship thee: thy sources are seven: be content with this clarified butter: may this oblation be efficacious.” As the sacred lamp was lighted for the repulsion of evil spirits, before the oblations to the gods and the manes were presented, it is now extinguished, while recitation is made of the following text; “In solemn acts of religion, whatever fails through the negligence of those who perform the ceremony, may be perfected solely through meditation on Vishnu.” The oblations to spirits are next offered: the performer depositing portions of food in the several places prescribed for it, having previously swept each place with his hand and sprinkled it with water. Near the spot where the vessel of water stands, he makes three offerings, saying, “Salutation to rain! to water! to the earth!” He makes them at both doors of his house to Dhatri, and Vidhatri, or Brahma, the protector and creator. He presents them toward the eight points of the compass, adding salutation to them, and to the regents of them. To Brahm, to the sky, and to the sun, he makes oblations with salutation in the middle of the house. He then offers similar oblations to all the gods; to all beings; to twilight; and to the lord of all beings. After the sacrament of spirits thus performed, the worshipper, shifting the sacramental cord, and looking toward the south, drops upon one knee, and presents an oblation to the manes of ancestors, saying, “Salutation to progenitors: may this ancestral food be acceptable.” Having performed a lustration, he should then present food to his guests. “When he has thus,” says Mr. Colebrooke, “allotted out of the food prepared for his own repast, one portion to the gods, a second to progenitors, a third to all beings, and a fourth to his guests, he and his family may then, and not before, consume the remaining portion of the food.” This ceremony must be regularly performed in the forenoon, by those to whom the full celebration of the five sacraments is impracticable; and by some persons it is repeated again in the evening.781

After this tedious though greatly abridged account, of the daily ceremonies of the Hindus, we come to those which are performed at certain great and chosen epochs. On these, however, I shall content myself with some very general notices.

The Brahmans wait not for the period of birth to commence the ceremonis which pertain to each individual. “With auspicious acts,” says the holy text, “prescribed by the Veda, must ceremonies on conception, and so forth, be duly performed, which purify the bodies of the three classes in this life, and qualify them for the next.” Oblations to fire are required during the mother's pregnancy, and holy rites are commanded on the birth of the child. “Before the section of the naval string, a ceremony is ordained on the birth of a male child: he must be made, while sacred texts are pronounced, to taste a little honey and clarified butter from a golden spoon.”782 The ceremony of giving a name is ordained to be performed on the tenth or twelfth day after the birth: “or on some fortunate day of the moon, at a lucky hour, and under the influence of a star with good qualities.”783 The ceremony of the tonsure, which is one of the distinguishing marks of the first three classes, is a rite of great solemnity, commanded to be performed in the first or third year after birth.784 But of all the ritual ordinances of the Hindus none are reckoned more essential or important than those relating to the investiture. “In the eighth year from the conception of a Brahmen,” says the law of Menu, “in the eleventh from that of a Cshatriya, and in the twelfth from that of a Vaisya, let the father invest the child with the mark of his class: Should a Brahmen, or his father for him, be desirous of his advancement in sacred knowledge, a Cshatriya of extending his power, or a Vaisya of engaging in mercantile business, the investiture may be made in the fifth, sixth, or eighth years respectively. The ceremony of investiture, hallowed by the gayatri, must not be delayed, in the case of a priest, beyond the sixteenth year; nor in that of a soldier, beyond the twenty-second; nor in that of a merchant, beyond the twenty-fourth. After that all youths of these three classes, who have not been invested at the proper time, become vratyas or outcasts, degraded from the gayatri, and contemned by the virtuous. With such impure men let no Brahmen, even in distress for subsistence, ever form a connexion in law, either by the study of the Veda, or by affinity.”785 The investiture, or institution, is usually denominated the second birth; and it is from this ceremony that the three highest classes are denominated the twice-born.786 It consists chiefly in bestowing upon the object of the rite, a mantle, a girdle, a sacrificial cord, and a staff, with numerous ceremonies, prayers, and holy texts. “Let students of the Veda,” says the law of Menu,787 “wear for their mantles, the hides of black antelopes, of common deer, or of goats, with lower vests of woven sana, of cshuma, and of wool, in the direct order of their classes. The girdle of a priest must be made of munja, in a triple cord, smooth, and soft; that of a warrior must be a bow-string of murva; that of a merchant, a triple thread of sana. The sacrificial thread of a Brahmen must be made of cotton, so as to be put on over his head in three strings; that of a Cshatriya, of sana thread only; that of a Vaisya, of woollen thread.788 A priest ought by law to carry a staff of Bilva or Palasa: a soldier, of Bata or C’hadira; a merchant, of Venu or Udumbara. The staff of a priest must be of such a length as to reach his hair; that of a soldier to reach his forehead; and that of a merchant to reach his nose. Let all the staves be straight, without fracture, of a handsome appearance, not likely to terrify men, with their bark perfect, unhurt by fire. His girdle, his leathern mantle, his staff, his sacrificial cord, and his ewer, he must throw into the water, when they are worn out or broken, and receive others hallowed by mystical texts. The ceremony of cesanta, or cutting off the hair, is ordained for a priest in the sixteenth year from conception; for a soldier, in the twenty-second; for a merchant, two years later. Such is the revealed law of institution for the twice-born, an institution in which their second birth clearly consists, and which causes their advancement in holiness.”

The ceremonies of marriage, which next call for our attention, are extremely numerous. The bridegroom is first of all received by the father of the bride with all the ceremonies of hospitality which we have already described; and during this time the bride is bathed.789 When these rules are finished, the hand of the bride is placed in that of the bridegroom, both having been previously rubbed with some auspicious drug, and a matron binds them with cusa grass amid the sound of cheerful music. The father of the bride then bidding the attendant priests begin their acclamations, pours water from a vessel containing tila and cusa grass, upon the hands of the united pair, and uttering the words, “God the existent,” and pronouncing the names and designations of the bridegroom, the bride, and himself, says, “I give unto thee this damsel, adorned with jewels, and protected by the lord of creatures.” The bridegroom replies, “Well be it.” The bridegroom then having received from the father of the bride a piece of gold, and recited an appropriate text, the parties are affianced, and walk forth, while the bridegroom thus addresses the bride; “May the regents of space, may air, the sun, and fire, dispel that anxiety which thou feelest in thy mind, and turn thy heart to me. Be gentle in thy aspect, and loyal to thy husband; be fortunate in cattle, amiable in thy mind, and beautiful in thy person: be mother of valiant sons; be fond of delights; be cheerful; and bring prosperity to our bipeds and quadrupeds.”790 A libation of water is afterwards made; and the father of the bride, having meditated the gayatri, ties a knot with the skirts of the mantles of the bridegroom and bride, saying, “Ye must be inseparably united in matters of duty, wealth, and love.” The bridegroom next attires the bride with a variety of ceremonies, of which the following are the most remarkable. Going to the principal apartment of the house, he prepares a sacrificial fire, and hallows the implements; when one friend of his bearing a jar of water, walks round the fire, and stops on the south side of it; and another, performing the same ceremony, places himself on the right of the first. The bridegroom then casts four double handfuls of rice, mixed with leaves of Sami, into a flat basket; and placing near it a stone and mullar, which with formality he had previously touched, he causes the bride to be clothed with a new waistcloth and scarf, while he himself recites a variety of prayers. This being done, the bride goes to the western side of the fire, and recites a prayer, while she steps on a mat made of virana grass, and covered with silk. She then sits down on the edge of the mat, and the bridegroom makes six oblations of clarified butter, reciting a prayer with each.791 After this he names the three worlds separately and conjointly, presenting oblations; and makes four or five oblations to fire and to the moon. After these he rises up with the bride, and passing from her left to her right makes her join her hands in a hollow form. The rice, which was previously put in the basket, being then taken up, and the stone which was laid near being placed before the bride, she treads on it with the point of her right foot, while the bridegroom recites this prayer, “Ascend this stone; be firm like this stone; distress my foe, and be not subservient to my enemies.” He then pours on her hands a ladleful of clarified butter; another person gives her the rice; two ladlefuls of butter are poured over it; when she separates her hands, and lets fall the rice on the fire, while a holy text is recited. She treads again on the stone, again makes an oblation of rice, again a prayer is recited, again walking is performed round the fire, again four or five oblations are made with similar ceremonies and prayers, when the bridegroom pours two ladlefuls of butter on the edge of the basket, and then rice out of it into the fire, saying, “may this oblation to fire be efficacious.” After the ceremony of ascending the stone and throwing the rice into the fire, the bride is conducted to the bridegroom, and by him directed to step successively into seven circles, while seven texts are repeated. This is the most emphatical part of the ritual; for no sooner is the seventh step of the bride performed, than the nuptial bond is complete and irrevocable. The bridegroom then in appropriate texts addresses the bride and the spectators, dismissing them; after which his friend, who stood near the sacrificial fire, bearing a jar of water, advances to the spot where the seventh step was completed, and, while a prayer is recited, pours water on the head, first of the bridegroom and then of the bride. Upon this, the bridegroom, putting his left hand under the hands of his bride, which are joined in a hollow posture, takes her right hand in his, and recites six holy texts; after which he sits down with her near the fire, and makes oblations, while severally and conjointly he names the three worlds. On the evening of the same day, when the stars begin to appear, the bride sits down on a bull's hide of a red colour, placed with the neck towards the east, and the hair upwards; and the bridegroom, sitting down beside her, makes oblations, naming the three worlds as usual; then six other oblations, pouring each time the remainder of the clarified butter on her head, and reciting prayers.792 After rising up, and contemplating the polar star as an emblem of stability, matrons pour upon them water mixed with leaves, which had been placed upon an altar prepared for that purpose, and the bridegroom again makes oblations with the names of the worlds. He then eats food, prepared without factitious salt, reciting prayers during the meal: and when he has finished, the remainder is given to the bride. During the three subsequent days the married couple must remain in the house of the father of the bride, must abstain from factitious salt, must live chastely and austerely, sleeping on the ground. On the fourth day the bridegroom carries her to his house, reciting texts when he ascends the carriage, and when they come to cross roads. Leading her into his own house he chants a hymn, when matrons hail, and seat her on a bull's hide as before, and the bridegroom recites a prayer. They place next a young child in her lap, putting roots of lotus, or fruits, into his hand; when the bridegroom takes him up, and, preparing a sacrificial fire with all the usual ceremonies, makes eight different oblations, with as many prayers. The bride then salutes her father in law, and the other relations of her husband. The bridegroom prepares another sacrificial fire, and sits down with the bride on his right hand; when with the usual preliminary and concluding oblations to the three worlds, he makes twenty oblations, with as many prayers, throwing the remainder of each portion of the consecrated butter into a jar of water, which is afterwards poured on the head of the bride.

If the ceremonies prescribed for marriage are thus multiplied, trivial, and tiresome, those allotted to funerals are in point of number still more exorbitant and oppressive. After a specimen, however, of the Hindu ceremonies, there is something exceedingly monotonous in the detail of the rest; and hardly any thing is more ungrateful than to be obliged to go through them. The reader is, therefore, spared the task of studying the funeral rites of the Hindus, of which, notwithstanding, he may form a sufficient conception, as, in point of character, they exactly resemble those which have already been described.793

Of the monthly ceremonies, one may suffice to afford an idea of the whole. “From month to month,” says the law of Menu, “on the dark day of the moon, let a twice-born man, having finished the daily sacrament of the Pitris, and his fire being still blazing, perform the solemn sraddha.”794 Of the sraddha's, which are numerous but very similar, the following is exhibited as a specimen. The person who is to perform the ceremony having purified the place by smearing it with cow-dung, raises on it an alter of sand of certain dimensions and form, washes his hands and feet, sips water, and puts a ring of cusa grass on the ring finger of each hand. He then sits down on a cushion of cusa grass, and lights a lamp, reciting a prayer. He next places the utensils and materials in order, sprinkles water on himself and all around, meditates on Vishnu, surnamed the Lotos-eyed, meditates the gayatri, and after some ceremonies proceeds to invite and to welcome the assembled gods and the manes. Two little cushions, of three blades of cusa grass, he places on one side of the altar for the Viswadevas, and six in front of it for the Pitris, and strewing on them cusa grass, he asks, “Shall I invoke the assembled gods?” Do so; is the answer: upon which he exclaims, “Assembled gods! hear my invocation: come and sit down on this holy grass.” After scattering barley and meditating a prayer to the gods, he invites the manes of ancestors with similar invocations; and welcomes the gods and manes with oblations of water, &c. in vessels made of leaves. He puts cusa grass into the vessels, and sprinkles them with water, while he recites the prayer, beginning, “May divine waters be auspicious to us;” he next throws barley into the vessels intended for the gods, and tila into those intended for the manes, with a prayer appropriate to each. The vessels are then taken up in succession, a prayer being repeated for each; the cusa grass placed on the vessels is put into the hand of a Brahmen; that which was under them is held in the hand of the person by whom the sraddha is performed; and he pours through it, on the hand of the Brahmen, the water which the vessels contained, then piles up the empty vessels in three sets, and overturns them, saying, while he reverses the first, “Thou art a mansion for ancestors.” Taking up food smeared with clarified butter, he next makes two oblations to fire, with two corresponding prayers. The residue of the oblation, the performer having consecrated it by prayers and other ceremonies, having sweetened it with honey and sugar, and having meditated the gayatri with the names of worlds, is distributed among the Brahmens; and when they have eaten till they have acknowledged that they are satisfied, he gives them water to rinse their mouths. He then offers the cakes, consisting of balls or lumps of food, mixed with clarified butter, observing the requisite ceremonies. In the next place he makes six libations of water from the palms of his hands, with the salutation to the seasons, then places with due ceremonies and texts, a thread on each funeral cake, to serve as apparel for the manes. After this he takes up the middle cake and smells it, or his wife, if they are desirous of male offspring, eats it, while they recite a correspondent prayer. He takes up the rest of the cakes, and smelling them one after another, throws them into a vessel; which done, they are given to a mendicant priest, or a cow, or else cast into the water. He then dismisses the manes, reciting a holy text, and having walked round the spot, and recited a prayer, departs.795 “Formal obsequies,” says Mr. Colebrooke, “are performed no less than ninety-six times in every year.”796

END OF VOL. I.
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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Part 1 of 6

Notes:

1. The difficulty arising from this source of false information was felt by the very first accurate historian.
Thucyd. lib. i. c. k. Other excellent observations to the same purpose are found in the two following chapters.
2. Il y avoit plus de choses la dessus qu’on ne le croyoit communement, mais elles etoient noyées dans une foule de recueils immenses, en langues Latine, Espagnole, Angloise, et Hollandoise, ou personne ne s'avisoit de les aller chercher; dans une quantité de routiers tres-secs, tres ennuyeux, relatifs à cent autres objets, et dont il seroit presque impossible de rendre la lecture interressente. Les difficultés ne touchent guère ceux qui ne les essuyent pas. Hist. des Navigation aux Terres Australes, par M. le President de Brosse.
3. L’on ne sent que trop, says Mr. Gibbon, combien nous sommes portés à mêler nos idées avec celles que nous rapportons. Memoire sur la Monarchie des Medes, Gibbon's Miscel. Works, iii. 61. Ed. 8vo. This infirmity of the human mind, a fact of great importance, both in speculation and in action, the reader, who is not already acquainted with it, will find very elegantly illustrated in one of the chapters of the second volume of the work of Mr. Dugald Stewart, on the Philosophy of the Human Mind. See p. 72, vol: ii. of the present work. Many examples of it will present themselves in the course of this history; for as it is a habit peculiarly congenial to the mental state of the natives, so a combination of circumstances has given it unusual efficacy in the minds of those of our countrymen by whom India has been surveyed.
4. The idea of a critical history is not very old. The first man who seems to have had a distinct conception of it, says, “Je traiterai mon sujet en critique, suivant la rogle de St. Paul, Examinez toutes choses, et ne retenez que ce qui est bon. L’histoire n’est bien souvent qu'un melange confus de faux et de vrai, entassé par des ecrivains mal instruits, credules, ou passionez. C’est au lecteur attentif et judicieux d’en faire le discernement, à l'aide d'une critique, qui ne soit ni trop timide, ni temeraire. Sans le secours de cet art, on erre dans l’histoire, comme un pilote sur le mer, lorsqu’il n'a ni boussole, ni carte marine.” Beausobre, Hist. de Manichee, Disc. Prelim. p. 7.
The same writer has also said, what is not foreign to the present purpose, “Une histoire critique ne pouvant être trop bien justifiée, j'ai eu soin de mettre en original, au bas des pages, les passages qui servent de preuve aux faits que j'avance. C’est un ennuyeux travail, mais je l'ai cru necessaire. Si l’on trouve les citations trop amples et trop abondantes, c’est un superflu qui n'a coῦté qu'a moi, et le lecteur peut bien m’en pardonner la depense.” Id. Ibid. Pref. p. 24.
A great historian of our own has said: “It is the right, it is the duty of a critical historian to collect, to weigh, to select the opinions of his predecessors; and the more diligence he has exerted in the search, the more rationally he may hope to add some improvement to the stock of knowledge, the use of which has been common to all.” Gibbon's Miscel. Works, iv. 589.
5. Even those strictures, which sometimes occur, on institutions purely British, will be all found, I am persuaded, to be not only strictly connected with measures which relate to India, and which have actually grown out of those institutions; but indispensably necessary to convey complete and correct ideas of the Indian policy which the institutions in question contributed mainly to shape. The whole course of our Indian policy having, for example, been directed by the laws of parliamentary influence, how could the one be explained without adducing, as in the last chapter of the fourth volume, and in some other places, the leading principles of the other? The result of all the judicial inquiries, which have been attempted in England, on Indian affairs, depending in a great degree on the state of the law in England, how could those events be sufficiently explained, without adducing, as in the chapter on the trial of Mr. Hastings, those particulars in the state of the law of England, on which the results in question appeared more remarkably to depend? The importance of this remark will be felt, and, I hope, remembered, when the time for judging of the use and pertinence of those elucidations arrives.
6. The Indians themselves have a striking apologue to illustrate the superiority of the comprehensive student over the partial observer.
“One day in conversation,” says Mr. Ward, “with the Sŭngskritŭ head pŭndit of the College of Fort William, on the subject of God, this man, who is truly learned in his own Shastrŭs, gave the author, from one of their books, the following parable:—In a certain country, there existed a village of blind men, who had heard of an amazing animal called the elephant, of the shape of which, however, they could procure no idea. One day an elephant passed through the place: the villagers crowded to the spot where the animal was standing; and one of them seized his trunk, another his ear, another his tail, another one his legs. After thus endeavouring to gratify their curiosity, they returned into the village, and sitting down together, began to communicate their ideas on the shape of the elephant, to the villagers: the man who had seized his trunk said, he thought this animal must be like the body of the plantain tree; he who had touched his ear was of opinion, that he was like the winnowing fan; the man who had laid hold of his tail said, he thought he must resemble a snake; and he who had caught his leg declared, he must be like a pillar. An old blind man, of some judgment was present, who, though greatly perplexed in attempting to reconcile these jarring notions, at length said—You have all been to examine the animal, and what you report, therefore, cannot be false: I suppose then, that the part resembling the plantain tree must be his trunk; what you thought similar to a fan must be his ear; the part like a snake must be the tail; and that like a pillar must be his leg. In this way, the old man, uniting all their conjectures, made out something of the form of the elephant.” A View of the History, Literature, and Religion of the Hindoos. By the Rev W. Ward. Introd. p. lxxxvii. London Ed. 1817.
7. Aux yeux d'un philosophe, les faits composent la partie la moins interressante de l’histoire. C’est la connoissance de l’homme; la morale, et la politique qu’il y trouve, qui la relevent dans son esprit. Gibbon, Mem. Sur la Monarchie des Medes, Misc. Works, iii. 126. Ed. 8vo.
8. The following words are not inapplicable, originally applied to a much more limited subject. De quibus partibus singulis, quidam separatim scribere maluerunt, velut onus totius corporis veriti, et sic quoque complures de unaquaque earum libros ediderunt: quas ego omnes ausus contexere, prope infinitum mihi laborem prospicio, et psa cogitatione suscepti muneris fatigor. Sed durandum est quia cœpimus: et si viribus deficiemur, animo tamen perseverandum. Quinct. Inst. Or. lib. 4. Proœm.
9. No. 1. Appendix to the Fifth Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, on the Affairs of the East India Company, in 1810. This passage the Committee have thought of sufficient importance to be incorporated in their Report.
10. Observations of Lord William Bentinck, printed in the Advertisement, prefixed to the “Description of the Character, &c. of the People of India,” by the Abbé J. A. Dubois, Missionary in the Mysore. If any one should object to the testimony of this Ruler, as that of a man who had not been bred in India, it is to be remembered that the testimony is adduced, as expressing his own opinion, by the translator of that work, whose knowledge of India is not liable to dispute; and given to the world as the opinion of the Court of Directors, to whom the manuscript belonged, and under whose authority and direction, it was both translated and published.
11. Fifth Report, ut supra, p. 534, 562. “It is a fact,” says another enlightened observer, “which, however singular and unfortunate, is yet founded in truth, that those persons from whom correct information on these subjects might justly be expected, are generally the least able from the peculiar circumstances of their situation, to supply it; I mean the Company's servants.—During the early period of their residence in the East, every hour must be employed, in the acquisition of the languages, in the study of the laws of the country, and the manners of the natives: whilst the latter years of their service are still more unremittingly engrossed, in the discharge of the irksome and arduous duties of their profession.” Considerations on the Present Political State of India. By Alexander Fraser Tytler, late assistant Judge in the Twenty-four Pergunnahs, Bengal Establishment, Preface, p. xii. See other passages to the same purpose, Introduction, p. iv, v, xi; also i. 77, 357, 415. And Mr. Tytler quotes with peculiar approbation the passages already given from the Minute of Lord Teignmouth.
“I must beg you always to bear in mind, than when an English gentleman undertakes to give an account of Indian manners and habits of private life, he labours under many disadvantages. The obstacles which prevent our ever viewing the natives of India in the ir domestic circles are great and insuperable; such as the restrictions of caste on their side, rank and situation on ours, &c. We do not int ermarry with them, as the Portuguese did: nor do we ever mix with them, in the common duties of social life, on terms of equality. What knowledge we have of their domestic arrangements has been gained chiefly by inquiry, &cc.” Letters written in a Mahratta camp, &c. by T. I). Broughton, Esq. p. 3.
See to the same purpose, Sir John Malcolm, Sketch of the Political History of India, &c. p. 449.
After adverting to certain erroneous notions on Indian subjects, Lieutenant Moor, the well-informed author of the “Narrative of the Operations of Captain Little's Detachment,” observes, “Other opinions, equally correct and entertaining, are indulged by the good people of England; which it is vain to oppose, for the party ‘was told so by a gentleman who had been in India; perhaps a voyage or two but these, however respectable in their profession, are surely not the persons to receive information from, on the subject of the political characters of the East; no more (nor indeed much less) than some gentlemen who may have resided a few years in India; for we can easily admit the possibility of a person spending many years of his life in the cities of Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay, without knowing much more of the politics, prejudices, &c. of interior states or countries, than if he had never stirred out of London, Dublin, or Edinburgh,” p. 196.
12. Bayle, Eclaircissemens, sur le Dictionnaire.
13. Rambler, No. ii.
14. Some considerable reputations have been acquired, by praising every thing in one's own country. And there are many persons who sincerely insist upon it, that a writer ought always to contrive to put his country in the right: and that it is a proof of his not being a friend to it, if he ever puts it in the wrong. This is a motive which I utterly disclaim. This is the way, not to be a friend to one's country, but an enemy. It is to bring upon it the disgrace of falsehood and misrepresentation, in the first instance; and, next, to afford it all the inducement, in the writer's power, to persevere in mischievous, or in disgraceful courses.
15. Anderson's History of Commerce in the reign of Elizabeth, passim. See also Hakluyt's Voyages, ii. 3, 96. Ibid. iii. 690. Guicciardini's Description of the Netherlands. Sir William Temple. Camden, 408.
16. Hakluyt, iii. 4. Rymer's Fœdera, xii. 595. Anderson's History of Commerce, published in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 11. Robertson's History of America, iv. 138.
17. Hakluyt, iii. 129. Harris's Collection of Voyages, i. 874.
18. Hakluyt, ut supra.
19. Ibid. 131.
20. Hakluyt, i. 226, &c.
21. Anderson's History of Commerce in Macpherson, ii. 166.
22. Hakluyt. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 145, 158, 159.
23. Hakluyt. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 175, 180, 185.
24. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 171.
25. Purchas, b. iii. sect. 2. Anderson, ii. 210.
26. Hakluyt, iii. 440. Harris's Collection of Voyages, i. 14. Camden's Annals, 301, &c.
27. Harris is not satisfied with the merit of those productions, which reached not, in his opinion, the worth of the occasion; and seems to be rather indignant that no modern poet has rivalled the glory of Homer, “by displaying in verse the labours of Sir Francis Drake:” i. 20.
28. Her Majesty appears to have been exquisitely gracious. The crowd which thronged after her was so great that the bridge, which had been constructed between the vessel and the shore, broke down with the weight, and precipitated 200 persons into the water. As they were all extricated from their perilous situation without injury, the Queen remarked that so extraordinary an escape could be owing only to the Fortune of Sir Francis Drake. Harris, i. 20.
29. I am sorry to observe that no great respect for human life seems to have been observed in this proceeding; since, directly implying that the guns had been charged with shot, and levelled at the men, the historian of the voyage jocosely remarks, “that 'tis ten to one if any of the savages were killed; for they are so very nimble that they drop immediately into the water, and dive beyond the reach of all danger, upon the least warning in the world.” Harris's Collect. of Voyages, i. 27.
30. Monson's Naval Tracts. Hakluyt. Anderson's Hist. of Com. published in Macpherson's Annals, ix. 169, 198. Rymer's Fœdera.
31. This is not a conclusion merely drawn from the circumstances of the case, which however would sufficiently warrant it; but stated on the testimony of Cambden, who related what he heard and saw. Cambden's Annals. Anderson's Hist of Commerce.
32. Anderson's Hist. of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 201.
33. They returned to London in 1591. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 198.
34. Harris's Voyages, i. 875.
35. This Memorial is preserved in the State Paper Office, and a short account of it has been given us by Mr. Bruce Annals of the East India Company, i. 109.
36. Anderson's Hist. of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 199. Harris's Voyages, i. 875.
37. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 209. Harris's Voyages, i. 920.
38. Minutes, &c. (Indian Register Office.) Bruce's Annals, i. 112.
39. Minutes of a General Court of Adventurers, preserved in the Indian Register Office. Bruce's Annals, i. 128.
40. Bruce's Annals, i. 129–136. Anderson's History of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 216. Harris's Collection of Voyages, i. 875.
41. Bruce's Annals, i. 146. “But forasmuch,” says Sir William Monson (Naval Tracts, iii. Churchill's Collection of Voyages, 475), “as every innovation commonly finds opposition, from some out of partiality, and from others as enemies to novelty; so this voyage, though at first it carried a great name and hope of profit, by the word India, and example of Holland, yet was it writ against.” He then exhibits the objections, seven in number, and subjoins an answer. The objections were shortly as follows, the answers may be conceived:
1. The trade to India would exhaust the treasure of the nation by the exportation of bullion.
2. It would consume its mariners by an unhealthy navigation.
3. It would consume its ships by the rapid decay produced in the southern seas.
4. It would hinder the vent of our cloth, now exported in exchange for the spices of the foreign merchants.
5. It was a trade of which the returns would be very slow.
6. Malice to the Turkey Company was the cause of it, and jealousy and hatred from the Dutch would be the unhappy effect.
7. It would diminish the Queen's customs by the privilege of exporting bullion duty free.
These objections, with the answers, may also be seen in Anderson's History of Commerce, ad an.
42. Harris, i. 875. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 217, 218. Bruce's Annals, i. 151, 152.
43. Bruce's Annals, i. 152–163.
44. Bruce's Annals, i. 164.
45. Bruce, i. 165.
46. Bruce, i. 166.
47. Bruce, i. 171, &c. Sir Thomas Roe's Journal and Letters. Churchill, i. 770–809.
48. Churchill, i. 106–108. He gives another account of his endeavours to injure the Dutch, in the following words:— “The 10th, 11th, and 12th, I spent in giving the king and prince advice that a Dutch ship lay before Surat, and would not declare upon what design it came, till a fleet arrived; which was expected with the first fit season. This I improved to fill their heads with jealousies of the designs of the Dutch, and the dangers that might ensue from them; which was well taken: and, being demanded, I gave my advice to prevent coming to a rupture with them, and yet exclude them the trade of India.” Ib. 774.
49. Bruce, i. 174, 178.
50. Bruce, i. 188.
51. Sir Jeremy Sambrooke's Report on East India Trade (MS. in East India Register Office) quoted by Bruce, i. 193.
52. Bruce, i. 199.
53. Memorial of the Dutch East India Company to King James, and Reply of the London East India Company thereto, in the year 1616, (East India Papers in the State Paper Office) quoted, Bruce, i. 202.
54. Rymer's Fœdera, xvii. 170. Bruce, i. 212.
55. Bruce, i. 213.
56. Bruce, i. 223.
57. Bruce i. 237, 238.
58. Accounts in the Indian Register Office. Bruce, i. 225, 234, 241.
59. The Dutch, in their vindication, stated that the English intrigued with the Portuguese, and underhand assisted the natives in receiving the Portuguese into the islands. See Anderson's History of Commerce, in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 305.
60. East India Papers in the State Paper Office. Bruce, i. 241.
61. The English had not been so long strangers to the torture themselves, that it needed to excite in their breasts any emotions of astonishment. “The rack itself,” says Hume in his History of Elizabeth, v. 457, “though not admitted in the ordinary execution of justice, was frequently used upon any suspicion, by authority of a warrant from a secretary or the Privy Council. Even the Council in the Marches of Wales were empowered, by their very commission, to make use of torture whenever they thought proper. There cannot be a stronger proof how lightly the rack was employed, than the following story; told by Lord Bacon. We shall give it in his own words: ‘The Queen was mightily incensed against Haywarde, on account of a book he dedicated to Lord Essex, thinking it a seditious prelude to put into the people's head holdness and faction: [to our apprehension, says Hume, Haywarde's book seems rather to have a contrary tendency; but Queen Elizabeth was very difficult to please on that head.] She said, she had an opinion that there was treason in it, and asked me if I could not find any places in it, that might be drawn within the case of treason?. .....Another time when the Queen could not be persuaded that it was his writing whose name was to it, but that it had some more mischievous author, she said, with great indignation, that she would have him racked to produce his author.’ ...Thus, continues Hume, “had it not been for Bacon's humanity, or rather his wit, this author, a man of letters, had been put to the rack for a most innocent performance.”—The truth is, that the Company themselves, at this very time, were in the regular habit of perpetrating tortures upon their own countrymen, and even their own servants—of torturing to death by whips or famine. Captain Hamilton (New Account of the East Indies, i. 362,) informs us, that before they were intrusted with the powers of martial law, having no power to punish capitally any but pirates, they made it a rule to whip to death, or starve to death, those of whom they wished to get rid. He produces (Ib. 376) an instance of a deserter at Fort St. George, “whipt,” as he expresses it, “out of this world into the next.” The power too, of executing as for piracy, the same author complains, was made use of to murder many private traders. “That power (he says, Ib. 362.) of executing pirates is so strangely stretched, that if any private trader is injured by the tricks of a Governor, and can find no redress—if the injured person is so hold as to talk of lex talioni, he is infallibly declared a pirate.” He gives an account of an attempt of an agent of the Company, and a creature of the Governor of Fort St. George, to swear away his life by perjury at Siam. (lb. ii. 183.)—These parallels are presented, not for the sake of clearing the one party at the expence of the other; but, by showing things as they were, to give the world at last possession of the real state of the case.
62. East India Papers in the State Paper Office. Bruce, i. 256.
63. Bruce, i. 258.
64. Bruce, i. 252.
65. Ib. 252, 265, 271.
66. East India Papers in the State Paper Office. Bruce, i. 272.
67. Bruce, i. 262, 264, 268.
68. Bruce, i. 264, 269, 290.
69. Bruce, i. 276, 277, 282. Anderson in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 351.
70. Bruce, i. 285, 287.
71. Ib. i. 278, 293.
72. Bruce, 293.
73. Bruce, i. 296, 304, 300, 302.
74. Papers in the Indian Register Office. Sir Jeremy Sambrooke's Report on the East India Trade, Bruce, i. 306.
75. Bruce, i. 306, 320, 323.
76. Bruce, i. 306, 320, 324, 327.
77. Ib. 325, 334.
78. Bruce, i. 329, 387.
79. Ib. 342.
80. Bruce, i. 345, 349.
81. Ib. 349, 350, 353.
82. Bruce, 353, 354.
83. Ib. i. 355, 361, 362.
84. Ib. 363.
85. Preamble to a subscription for a new joint-stock for trade to the East Indies, 28th January, 1640, (East India Papers in the State Paper Office,) Bruce, i. 364.
86. Ib.
87. See Bruce, i. 371. The quantity was, 607, 522 bags, bought at 2s. 1d. per pound, total 63,283l. 11s. 1d.; sold at 1s. 8d. per pound; total 50,626l. 17s. 1d.
88. Bruce, i. 379, 380.
89. Piece Goods is the term which, latterly at least, has been chiefly employed by the Company and their agents to denote the muslins and wove goods of India and China in general.
90. Bruce, i. 377, 393.
91. Ib. 385.
92. Bruce, 389, 390.
93. Ib. 407, 412, 423.
94. Bruce, i. 423.
95. Ib. 434
96. Bruce, i. 435, 436.
97. Ib. 437, 438.
98. Ib. 439, 440.
99. Ib. 440.
100. Ib. 441.
101. If we hear of committees of the several stocks; the bodies of Directors were denominated committees. And if there were committees of the several stocks, how were they constituted? were they committees of Proprietors, or committees of Directors? And were there any managers or Directors besides?
102. Bruce, i. 406, 463.
103. Ib. 454, 462, 484.
104. Bruce, i. 458, 482, 484, 485.
105. Ib. 48.
106. Bruce, i. 491.
107. The reasons on which they supported their request, as stated in their petition, exhibit so just a view of the infirmities of joint-stock management, as compared with that of individuals pursuing their own interests, that they are highly worthy of inspection as a specimen of the talents and knowledge of the men by whom joint-stock was now opposed. See Bruce, i. 518.
108. Bruce, i. 492, 493.
109. Ib. i. 494.
110. Bruce, i. 503.
111. Bruce, i. 503, 504.
112. Bruce, i. 508.
113. Thurloe's State Papers, iii. 80. Anderson says, “The merchants of Amsterdam having heard that the Lord Protector would dissolve the East India Company at London, and declare the navigation and commerce to the Indies to be free and open, were greatly alarmed, considering such a measure as ruinous to their own East India Company.” Anderson's History of Commerce, in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 459. See Bruce, i. 518.
114. Bruce, i. 514–516.
115. Ib. 522–529.
116. Bruce, i. 529.
117. Bruce, i. 529, 530.
118. Bruce, i. 532.
119. Ib.
120. Ib. 533.
121. Bruce, 539, 540. The state of interest, both in India and England, appears incidentally in the accounts received by the Company from the agents at Surat, in the year 1658–59. These agents, after stating the narrowness of the funds placed at their disposal, recommend to the Directors rather to borrow money in England, which could easily be done at 4 per cent., than leave them to take up money in India at 8 or 9 per cent. Ib. 542.
122. Ib. 544.
123. Ib. 549—551.
124. Ib. 555.
125. Bruce, i. 553, 554.
126. Ib. 557.
127. Anderson's Hist. of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 495, 605.
128. Bruce, ii. 108, 119, 152, 186.
129. Bruce, 110, 138, 157, 158, 174.
130. Ib. ii. 130, 159.
131. Bruce, ii. 104, 106, 126, 134, 141, 155, 168, 199. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 503.
132. Bruce, ii. 132, 161, 184, 198.
133. Bruce, 144, 145, 284.
134. Ib. ii. 179, 245
135. Bruce, i. 560; ii. 110, 131.
136. Ib. ii. 107—109.
137. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 493.
138. Raynal, Hist. Philos. et Polit. des Etabliss. &c. dans les Deux Indes, ii. 183. Ed. 8vo. Geneve, 1781. Bruce, ii. 137, 150, 167. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 516.
139. Letters from the Agent and Council of Bantam (in the East India Register Office), Bruce, ii. 163.
140. Bruce, ii. 178, from a letter from the President and Council of Surat.
141. Sir William Petty, who wrote his celebrated work, entitled Political Arithmetic, in 1676, says; 1. The streets of London showed that city to be double what it was forty years before; great increase was also manifested at Newcastle, Yarmouth, Norwich, Exeter, Portsmouth, and Cowes; and in Ireland, at Dublin, Kingsale, Coleraine, and Londonderry. 2. With respect to shipping, the navy was triple, or quadruple what it was at that time; the shipping of Newcastle was 80,000 tons, and could not then have exceeded a quarter of that amount. 3. The number and splendour of coaches, equipages and furniture, had much increased since that period. 4. The postage of letters had increased from one to twenty. 5. The King's revenue had tripled itself. See too Macpherson's Annals, ii. 580.
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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Part 2 of 6

142. Bruce, ii. 201, 206, 209—224, 227, 230—256, 258, 259—278, 281, 282, 283—293, 296, 297—312, 313—327, 328, 331.
143. Ib. ii. 210. The words of this order are curious, “to send home by these ships 100 lb. waight of the best tey that you can gett.”
144. Ib. ii. 211.
145. Ib. 302.
146. Ib. 232, 334.
147. Bruce, ii. 337, 342, 366.
148. An anonymous author, whom Anderson in his History of Commerce quotes as an authority, says, in 1679, that the Dutch herring and cod fishery employed 8,000 vessels, and 200,000 sailors and fishers, whereby they annually gained five millions sterling; besides their Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland fisheries, and the multitude of trades and people employed by them at home. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 596. See in the same work, ii. 547 and 552, a summary of the statements of Child and De Witt. For ampler satisfaction the works themselves must be consulted.
149. Anderson's Hist. of Commerce. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 579.
150. Bruce, ii. 356, 360, 361—375, 379—392, 393, 395—406, 409, 410—435, 438, 439—446, 451, 453—459, 465, 468.
151. Bruce, ii. 367, 466, 396, 404.
152. Ib. 405.
153. Bruce, ii. 355, 374, 449, 453.
154. Bruce ii. 275.
155. Bruce, ii. 476, 481—496, 506—528, 531.
156. Anderson's Hist. of Commerce Macpherson's Annals, ii. 579
157. Supra, p. 95.
158. Bruce, ii. 482, 499.
159. Bruce, ii. 492
160. Ib. 502.
161. Ib. 496.
162. Bruce, ii. 512. Governor Child is accused by Hamilton of wanton and intolerable oppressions; and that author states some facts which indicate excessive tyranny. New Account of the East Indies, i. 187—199.
163. Bruce, ii. 515.
164. Bruce, ii. 526, 540, 584, 591. It was debated in the Privy Council, whether the charter of incorporation should be under the King's or the Company's seal. The King asked the Chairman his opinion, who replied, “that no person in India should be employed by immediate commission from his Majesty, because, if they were, they would be prejudicial to our service by their arrogancy, and prejudicial to themselves, because the wind of extraordinary honour in their heads would probably make them so haughty and overbearing, that we should be forced to remove them.” Letter from the Court to the President of Fort St. George, (Ib. 591). Hamilton, ut supra (189—192). Orme's Historical Fragments, 185, 188, 192, 198.
165. Mr. Orme is not unwilling to ascribe part of the hardships they experienced to the interlopers, who, seeking protection against the oppressions of the Company, were more sedulous and skilful in their endeavours to please the native governors. Hist. Frag. 185.
166. These events occurred under the government of the celebrated imperial deputy Shaista Khan; “to the character of whom (says Mr. Stewart, Hist. of Bengal, 300.) it is exceedingly difficult to do justice. By the Mohammedan historians he is described as the pattern of excellence; but by the English he is vilified as the oppressor of the human race. Facts are strongly on the side of the Mohammedans.”
167. Bruce, ii. 558, 569, 578, 594, 608, 620, 630, 639, 641, 646, 650. The lively and intelligent Captain Hamilton represents the conduct of Sir John Child at Surat as exceptionable in the highest degree. But the Captain was an interloper, and though his book is strongly stamped with the marks of veracity, his testimony is to be received with the same caution on the one side as that of the Company on the other. New Account of India, i. 199—228.
168. Bruce, ii. 655.
169. Ib. iii. 75, 87, 122, 139, 181, 203, 231.
170. Bruce, iii. 78.
171. Ib. 120.
172. See, in Gibbon, viii. 357 to 360, a train of allusions, as usual, to the history of the Armenians; and in his notes a list of its authors.—The principal facts regarding them, as a religious people, are collected with his usual industry and fidelity by Mosheim, Ecclesiast. Hist. iii. 493, 494, 495, and 412, 413.
173. Bruce, iii. 88.
174. Bruce, iii. 81; Macpherson's Annals, ii. 618; and Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, iii. 132, who with his usual sagacity brings to view the causes of the principal events in the history of the Company.
175. Bruce, iii. 82.
176. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 648.
177. Bruce, iii. 102.
178. Ib. iii. 103. Sir Josiah Child, as chairman of the Court of Directors, wrote to the Governor of Bombay, to spare no severity to crush their countrymen who invaded the ground of the Company's pretensions in India. The Governor replied, by professing his readiness to omit nothing which lay within the sphere of his power to satisfy the wishes of the Company; but the laws of England unhappily would not let him proceed so far as might otherwise be desirable. Sir Josiah wrote back with anger:—“That he expected his orders were to be his rules, and not the laws of England, which were an heap of nonsense, compiled by a few ignorant country gentlemen, who hardly knew how to make laws for the good of their own private families, much less for the regulating of Companies, and foreign commerce.” (Hamilton's New Account of India, i. 232.) “I am the more particular,” adds Captain Hamilton, “on this account, because I saw and copied both those letters in Anno 1696, while Mr. Vaux [the Governor to whom the letters were addressed] and I were prisoners at Surat, on account of Captain Evory's robbing the Mogul's great ship, called the Gunsway.” Bruce, iii. 233.
179.Bruce, iii. 133—135. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 649.
180. Ib. 142.
181. We know not the terms of that contract, nor how a participation in its privileges could be granted to individuals without a breach of faith toward the Armenian merchants.
182. Bruce, iii. 167.
183. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 652, 662; 10,000l. is said to have been traced to the King.
184. Bruce, iii. 146, 186. “Sir Nicholas Waite [Consul of the Association] addressed a letter,” says Mr. Bruce, “to the Mogul, accusing the London Company of being sharers and abettors of the piracies, from which his subjects and the trade of his dominions had suffered, or, in the Consul's coarse language, of being thieves and confederates with the pirates.” Ib. 337.
185. Anderson's Hist. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 694 Bruce, iii. 252, 253.
186. Bruce, iii. 253, Macpherson, ii. 694.
187. Bruce, iii. 253. Anderson's History of Commerce; Macpherson, ii. 694, 695.
188. Bruce, iii. 253, 254. Anderson's History of Commerce; Macpherson, ii. 695.
189. Bruce, iii. 253. Macpherson, ii. 696.
190. Statute 9 & 10 W. III. c. 44.
191. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 699. Bruce, iii. 257, 258. Preamble to the Stat. 6. A. c. 17.
192. Anderson's Hist. of Commerce, Macpherson, ii. 700.
193. Bruce, iii. 256, 257. Macpherson, ii. 700. Smith's Wealth of Nations, iii. 133.
194. Bruce, iii. 257.
195. Ib. 259, 260.
196. Ib. 285.
197. Bruce, 264, 268, 300
198. Ib. iii. 293, 326, 350.
199. Bruce, 260 to 370, 374 to 379, 410.
200. Bruce, iii. 290, 293, 355.
201. Bruce, 124.
202. Anderson's Hist. of Commerce, Macpherson, ii. 705.
203. Bruce, iii. 424 to 426. Of the subtleties which at this time entered into the policy of the Company, the following is a specimen. Sir Basil Firebrace, or Firebrass, a notorious jobber who had been an interloper, and afterwards joined with the London Company, was now an intriguer for both Companies. At a General Court of the London Company, on the 23d April, 1701, this man stated, that he had a scheme to propose, which he doubted not would accomplish the union desired; but required to know what recompense should be allowed him, if he effected this important end. By an act of the Court, the committee of seven were authorized to negotiate, with Sir Basil, the recompense which he ought to receive: and after repeated conferences with the gentleman, they proposed to the Court of Committees, that if he effected the union, 150,000l. of the stock of the Company should be transferred to him on his paying 80l. per cent. In other words, he was to receive 20 per cent. on 150,000l. or a reward of 30,000l. for the success of his intrigues. Ibid. See also Macpherson, ii. 663.
204. Bruce, iii. 486 to 491.
205. Bruce, iii. 635 to 639; Stat. 6. A. c. 17.
206. Ib. 667 to 679. Macpherson, iii. 1, 2.
207. Mr. Gibbon remarks, (Hist. Decl. and Fall of the Roman Empire, i. p. 350,) that the wild Irishman, as well as the wild Tartar, can point out the individual son of Japhet from whose loins his ancestors were lineally descended.—According to Dr. Keating (History of Ireland, 13), the giant Partholanus, who was the son of Seara, the son of Esra, the son of Sru, the son of Framant, the son of Fathacian, the son of Magog, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah, landed on the coast of Munster, the 14th day of May, in the year of the world 1978.—The legends of England are not less instructive. A fourth or sixth son of Japhet named Samothes, having first colonized Gaul, passed over into this island, which was thence named Samothia, about 200 years after the flood; but the Samothians being some ages afterwards subdued by Albion, a giant son of Neptune, he called the island after his own name, and ruled it forty-four years. See the story, with some judicious reflections, in Milton's History of England (Prose Works of Milton, iv. 3. Ed. 1806). “The Athenians boasted that they were as ancient as the sun. The Arcadians pretended they were older than the moon. The Lacedemonians called themselves the sons of the earth, &c. such in general was the madness of the ancients on this subject! They loved to lose themselves in an abyss of ages which seemed to approach eternity.” Goguet, Origin of Laws, v. i. b. l. ch. 1, art. 5. See the authorities there quoted.
208. Eusebii Chronicon, p. 5. Syncelli Chronograph. p. 28. Bryant's Ancient Mythology, iv. 127. 8vo. edit.
209. Syncelli Chronicon, p. 51. Herodotus informs us, (lib. ii. c. 2,) that the Egyptians considered themselves as the most ancient of mankind, till an experiment made by Psammetichus convinced them that the Phrygians alone preceded them. But the inhabitants of the further Peninsula of India make the boldest incursions into the regions of past times. The Burmans, we are informed by Dr. Buchanan, (As. Res. vi. 181,) believe that the lives of the first inhabitants of their country lasted one assenchii, a period of time of which they thus communicate an idea: “If for three years it should rain incessantly over the whole surface of this earth, which is 1,203,400 juzana in diameter, the number of drops of rain falling in such a space and time, although far exceeding human conception, would only equal the number of years contained in one assenchii.”
210. Sir William Jones's Discourse on the Chronology of the Hindus, (As. Res. ii. 111, 8vo. Ed.) also that on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India, (Ibid. i. 221)—See too Mr. Bentley's Remarks on the principal Eras and Dates of the ancient Hindus, (Ibid. v. 315); and the Discourse of Captain F. Wilford on the Chronology of the Hindus, in the same volume, p. 24.—Consult also Mr. Marsden's Discourse on the Chronology of the Hindus, (Phil. Trans. lxxx. 568.) These authors, having all drawn from the same sources, display an appearance of uniformity and certainty in this part of the Hindu system. It is amusing to contemplate the wavering results of their predecessors. Mr. Halhed, in the preface to his Translation of the Code of Gentoo Laws, thus states the number of years, and thus spells the names of the epochs; 1. The Suttee Jogue, 3,200,000 years; 2. The Tirtah Jogue, 2,400,000 years; 3. the Dwapaar Jogue, 1,600,000; 4. the Collee Jogue, 400,000.—Colonel Dow marks the Suttee Jogue at 14,000,000; the Tirtah Jogue at 1,080,000; the Dwapaar Jogue, 72,000; and the Collee Jogue, 36,000 years. (History of Hindostan, i. 2.)—M. Bernier, whose knowledge of India was so extensive and accurate, gives, on the information of the Brahmens of Benares, the Satya yug at 2,500,000 years, the Treta at 1,200,000, the Dwapar at 864,000, and assigns no period to the Cali yug. (Voyages, ii. 160.)—Messrs. Roger and le Gentil, who received their accounts from the Brahmens of the coast of Coromandel, coincide with Sir William Jones, except that they specify no duration for the Cali yug. (Porte Ouverte, p. 179; Mem. de l'Academ. des Sciences pour 1772, tom. ii. part 1. p. 17.)—The account of Anquetil Duperron agrees in every particular with that of Sir W. Jones; Recherches Historiques et Geographiques sur l’Inde, Lettre sur les Antiquités de l’Inde.—The four ages of the Mexicans bear a remarkable resemblance to those of the Hindus, and of so many other nations. “All the nations of Anahuac (says Clavigero, History of Mexico, B. vi. sect. 24,) distinguished four ages of time by as many suns. The first, named Atonatiuh, that is, the sun (or the age) of water, commenced with the creation of the world, and continued until the time at which all mankind perished in a general deluge along with the first sun. The second, Tlaitonatiub, the age of earth, lasted from the deluge until the ruin of the giants, &c. The third, Ehécatonatiuh, the age of air, lasted from the destruction of the giants, till the great whirlwinds, &c. The fourth, Tletonatiuh, commenced at the last-mentioned catastrophe, and is to last till the earth be destroyed by fire.”
211. The reader will by and bye be prepared to determine for himself how far the tales of the Brahmens deserve exemption from the sentence which four great historians have, in the following passages, pronounced on the fanciful traditions of early nations. “The curiosity,” says Mr. Hume, “entertained by all civilized nations, of inquiring into the exploits and adventures of their ancestors, commonly excites a regret that the history of remote ages should always be so much involved in obscurity, uncertainty, and contradiction.∗ ∗ ∗ The fables which are commonly employed to supply the place of true history ought entirely to be disregarded; or, if any exception be admitted to this general rule, it can only be in favour of the ancient Grecian fictions, which are so celebrated and so agreeable, that they will ever be the objects of the attention of mankind.” (Hume's History of England, i. ch. 1.)—“Nations,” says Robertson, “as well as men, arrive at maturity by degrees, and the events which happened during their infancy or early youth cannot be recollected, and deserve not to be remembered.∗ ∗ ∗ Every thing beyond that short period, to which well-attested annals reach, is obscure; an immense space is left for invention to occupy; each nation, with a vanity inseparable from human nature, bath filled that void with events calculated to display its own antiquity and lustre. And history, which ought to record truth, and teach wisdom, often sets out with retailing fictions and absurdities.” (Robertson's History of Scotland, i. b. 1.)—Mr. Gibbon, speaking of a people (the Arabians) who in traditions and antiquity bear some resemblance to the Hindus, says, “I am ignorant, and I am careless, of the blind mythology of the Barbarians.” (History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. ix. 244, 8vo. edit.) Of a people still more remarkably resembling the Hindus, he says, “We may observe, that after an ancient period of fables, and a long interval of darkness, the modern histories of Persia begin to assume an air of truth with the dynasty of the Sassanides.” (lb. i. 341.)—“Quæ ante conditam condendamve urbem, poeticis magis decora fabulis quam incorruptis rerum gestarum monumentis traduntur ea nec affirmare nec refellere in animo est.” Livii. Prefat.
212. The coincidence in the tradition respecting Satyavrata and the history of Noah are very remarkable, and will be further noticed hereafter.
213. Sir Win. Jones, As. Res. ii. 119, 120, 127.
214. Sir Wm. Jones, Ib. 126. He was the son of Surya, (or Sol), the son of Casyapa (or Uranus), the son of Marichi (or Light), the son of Brahma, “which is clearly,” says Sir Wm. Jones, “an allegorical pedigree.” The Hindu pedigrees and fables, however, being very variable, he is, in the opening of the fourth book of the Gita, called, not the son of the Sun, but the Sun himself. Sir Wm. Jones, Ib. 117. In a celestial pedigree the Hindus agree with other rude nations. There is a curious passage in Plato respecting the genealogy of the Persian kings. They were descended, he says, from Achæmenes, sprung from Perseus the son of Zeus (Jupiter.) Plat. Alcib. i.
215. Compare the list of princes in the several yugs, exhibited in the Discourse of Sir Wm. Jones, As. Res. iii. 128 to 136, with the assigned duration of the yugs. The lineage of the lunar branch, who reigned in Pratisht’hana, or Vitora, during exactly the same period, is in all respects similar, excepting that the number of princes, in the first two ages, is in this line fewer by fifteen than in the line of solar princes. From this it has been supposed, that a chasm must exist in the genealogy of those princes; but surely without sufficient reason; since, if we can admit that eighty-five princes in the solar line could outlive the whole third and fourth ages, amounting to 2,160,000 years, we may, without much scruple, allow that seveaty princes in the lunar could extend through the same period.
216. The reigns of those princes, therefore, must have been fifty years at an average.
217. As. Res. ii. 137 to 142.
218. According to the Brahmens, 4911 years of the Cali yug were elapsed in the beginning of April, A. D. 1817, from which deducting 2648, the year of the Cali yug in which the reign of Chandrabija terminated, you have 2263, the number of years which have intervened since that period, and which carry it back to 446 years before Christ.
219. As. Res. ii. 142, 3.—We have been likewise presented with a genealogical table of the great Hindu dynasties by Captain Wilford, (As. Res. v. 241,) which he says is faithfully extracted from the Vishnu Purana, the Bhagavat, and other Puranas, and which, on the authority of numerous Mss. which he had collated, and of some learned Pundits of Benares whom he had consulted, he exhibits as the only genuine chronological record of Indian history which had yet come to his knowledge. But this differs in numerous particulars from that of the learned Pundit Radhacant, exhibited by Sir William Jones, and which Sir William says, “that Radhacant had diligently collected from several Puranas.” Thus it appears that there is not even a steady and invariable tradition or fiction on this subject: At the same time that the table of Captain Wilford removes none of the great difficulties which appear in that of Sir Wm. Jones. The most remarkable difference is exhibited in the line of the solar princes, whose genealogy Captain Wilford has taken from the Ramayan, as being, he thinks, consistent with the ancestry of Arjuna and Crishna, while that given by Sir William Jones and Radhacant, he says, is not.—The reader may also compare the Rajuturungu, a history of the Hindus compiled by Mrityoonjuyu, the head Sanscrit Pundit in the College of Fort William; translated and published in the first volume of “An Account of the Writings, Religion, and Manners of the Hindus,” by Mr. Ward, printed at Serampore, in four volumes 4to. 1811.
220. Sir Wm. Jones, As. Res. ii. 142.
221. Mr. Halhed seems, in his pref. to Code of Gent. Laws, to be very nearly reconciled to the Hindu chronology: at any rate he thinks the believers in the Jewish accounts of patriarchal longevity have no reason to complain, p. xxxvii. He has since, however, made a confession at second hand, of an alteration in his belief as to the antiquity of the Hindus. See Maurice's Hist. of Hindostan, i. 88.
222. See Sir Wm. Jones, Discourse on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India, As. Res. i. 236. The similarity between the Hindu description of the four yugs, and that of the four ages of the world by the Greeks, cannot escape attention. We shall have occasion to notice many other very striking marks of affinity between their several systems.
223. I have followed Mr. Halhed in the number of years (see Preface to Code of Gentoo Laws), though a derivative authority, because his statement is the highest, and by consequence the least unfavourable to the consistency of the Hindu chronology. In the Institutes of Menu, (ch. i. 83,) human life for the Satya yug is stated at 400 years, for the Treta yug at 300, the Dwapar 200, and the Cali yug at 100 years.
224. There is a very remarkable coincidence between the number of years specified in this Hindu division of time, and a period marked in a very curious fragment of the Chaldean History. The Cali yug, it appears from the text, amounts to 432,000 years, and the aggregate of the four yugs, which the Hindus call a Maha yug, or great yug, amounts to a period expressed by the same figures, increased by the addition of a cipher, or 4,320,000. Now Berosus informs us, that the first king of Chaldea was Alorus, who reigned ten sari, that a sarus is 3,600 years; that the first ten kings, whose reigns seem to have been accounted a great era, reigned 120 sari, which compose exactly 432,000 years, the Hindu period. See Eusebii Chronic. p. 5, where this fragment of Berosus is preserved; Syncelli Chronograph. p. 28. See also Bryant's Analysis of Ancient Mythology, iii. 95 to 126, for a most learned and ingenious commentary on this interesting fragment.
225. A learned author pronounces them inferior even to the legends of the Greeks, as evidence of primeval events. “Oriental learning is now employed in unravelling the mythology of India, and recommending it as containing the seed of primeval history; but hitherto we have seen nothing that should induce us to relinquish the authorities we have been used to respect, or make us prefer the fables of the Hindus or Guebres, to the fables of the Greeks.” Vincent, Periplus of the Erithrean Sea, Part i. 9. It may be added, that if the Greeks, the most accomplished people of antiquity, have left us so imperfect an account of the primitive state of their own country, little is to be expected from nations confessedly and remarkably inferior to them.
226. That propensity which so universally distinguishes rude nations, and forms so remarkable a characteristic of uncivilized society—of filling the ages that are past with fabulous events and personages, and of swelling every thing beyond the limits of nature, may be easily accounted for. Every passion and sentiment of a rude people is apt to display itself in wild and extravagant effects. National vanity follows the example of the other passions, and indulges itself, unrestrained by knowledge, in such fictions as the genius of each people inspires. Datur hœc venia antiquitati, ut nuscendo humana divinis, primordia urbium augustiora faciat. (Liv. Pref.) Of an accurate record of antecedent events, yielding lessons for the future by the experience of the past, uncultivated minds are not sufficiently capable of reflection to know the value. The real occurrences of life, familiar and insipid, appear too mean and insignificant to deserve to be remembered. They excite no surprise, and gratify no vanity. Every thing, however, which is extraordinary and marvellous, inspires the deepest curiosity and interest. While men are yet too ignorant to have ascertained with any accuracy the boundaries of nature, every thing of this sort meets with a ready belief; it conveys uncommon pleasure; the faculty of inventing is thus encouraged; and fables are plentifully multiplied. It may be regarded as in some degree remarkable, that, distinguished as all rude nations are for this propensity, the people of the East have far surpassed the other races of men in the extravagance of their legends. The Babylonians, the Arabians, the Syrians, the Egyptians, have long been subject to the contempt of Europeans, for their proneness to invent and believe miraculous stories. Lucian deems it a sarcasm, the bitterness of which would be universally felt, when he says of an author, infamous for the incredible stories which he had inserted in his history, that he had attained this perfection in lying, though he had never associated with a Syrian. (Quom. Cons. Hist.) The scanty fragments which have reached us of the histories of those other nations, have left us but little acquainted with the particular fables of which they compose their early history. But our more intimate acquaintance with the people of southern Asia has afforded us an ample assortment of their legendary stories.
227. “There is no known history of Hindoostan (that rests on the foundation of Hindu materials or records) extant, before the period of the Mahomedan conquests.” Rennel's Memoir, Introduction, xl. The Hindus have no ancient civil history, nor had the Egyptians any work purely historical. Wilford on Egypt and the Nile, As. Res. iii. 296.
228. If the authority of a Sanscrit scholar be wanted to confirm this harsh decision, we may adduce that of Captain Wilford, who, in his Discourse on Egypt and the Nile, As. Res. iii. 29, thus expresses himself: “The mythology of the Hindus is often inconsistent and contradictory, and the same tale is related many different ways. Their physiology, astronomy, and history, are involved in allegories and enigmas, which cannot but seem extravagant and ridiculous; nor could any thing render them supportable, but a belief that most of them have a recondite meaning; though many of them had, perhaps, no firmer basis than the heated imagination of deluded fanatics, or of hypocrites interested in the worship of some particular deity. Should a key to their eighteen Puranas exist, it is more than probable that the wards of it would be too intricate, or too stiff with the rust of time, for any useful purpose.”
“The Hindu system of geography, chronology, and history, are all equally monstrous and absurd.” Wilford on the Chronol. of the Hindus, As. Res. v. 241.
Another Oriental scholar of some eminence, Mr. Scott Waring, says, in his Tour to Sheeraz, p. iv. “that the Hindu mythology and history appear to be buried in impenetrable darkness.”
229. Dr. Robertson (Disquis. concerning Anc. India, note viii. p. 301.) says, “that some traditional knowledge of Alexander's invasion of India is still preserved in the northern provinces of the Peninsula, is manifest from several circumstances.” But these circumstances, when he states them, are merely such as this, that a race of Rajahs claim to be descended from Porus, or rather from a prince of a name distantly resembling Porus, which European inquirers conjecture may be the same. The other circumstance is, that a tribe or two, on the borders of ancient Bactria, are said to represent themselves as the descendants of some Greeks left there by Alexander. The modern Hindus, who make it a point to be ignorant of nothing, pretend, when told of the expedition of Alexander, to be well acquainted with it, and say, “That he fought a great battle with the Emperor of Hindoostan near Delhi, and, though victorious, retired to Persia across the northern mountains: so that the remarkable circumstance of his sailing down the Indus, in which he employed many months, is sunk altogether.” Major Rennel, Memoir, p. xl.
230. It affords a confirmation of this, that the Greeks have left us no accounts, in any degree satisfactory, of the manners and institutions of the ancient Persians, with whom they had so extended an intercourse; or of the manners and institutions of the Egyptians, whom they admired, and to whom their philosophers resorted for wisdom.
231. Hume's Hist. of England, i. 2.
232. Toute homme du bon entendement, sans voir une histoire, peut presque imaginer de quelle humeur fut un peuple, lorsqu’il lit ses anciens statuts et ordonnances; et d'un meme jugement peut tirer en conjecture quelles furent ses loix voyant sa maniere de vivre. Etienne Pasquier, Recherches de la France, liv. iv. ch. 1. The sage President de Goguet, on a subject remarkably similar, thus expresses himself:—“The dates and duration of the reigns of the ancient kings of Egypt are subject to a thousand difficulties, which I shall not attempt to resolve. In effect, it is of little importance to know the number of their dynasties, and the names of their sovereigns. It is far more essential to understand the laws, arts, sciences, and customs of a nation, which all antiquity has regarded as a model of wisdom and virtue. These are the objects I propose to examine, with all the care and exactness I ara capable of.” Origin of Laws, Part I. Book I. ch. i. art. 4.
233. There is a remarkable passage in Plato, at the beginning of the third book De Legibus, in which he describes the effects which would be produced on a small number of men, left alone in the world, or some uncultivated part of it. He is describing the situation of a small number of persons left alive by a flood, which had destroyed the rest of mankind.— Ἱι τοτε περιφυγντες την φϑοαν σχεδον ορειοι τινες αν ειεν νομεις, εν κορυφαις που σμικρα ζωπυρα του των ανθρωπων γενους δια σεσωμενα.—Και δη τους τοιουτους γε αναγκη που των αλλων απειρευς ειναι τεχνων, και των εν τοις αςεσι προς αλληλους μηχανων.—Ουκουν οργανα τε παντα απντα απολλυσϑαι, και ει τι τεχνης ην εχομενον σπουδαιας ἑυρημενον, η πολιτικης, η και σοφιας τινος ἑτεοας, παντα ερρειν ταυτα εν τψ τοτε χροθψφησομεν. (Plat. p. 804.) The Hindus appear to have had similar opinions, though without the reasons.
“We read in the Mahad-himalaya-c’handa, that after a deluge, from which very few of the human race were preserved, men became ignorant and brutal, without arts or sciences, and even without a regular language.” Wilford on Egypt and the Nile, As. Res. iii. 394.
There is nothing more remarkable in the traditions of nations, than their agreement respecting the origin of the present inhabitants of the globe. The account of the deluge in the religious books of the Jews may very well be taken as the archetype of the whole. On this subject I willingly content myself with a reference to a book of singular merit, The Analysis of Ancient Mythology, by Jacob Bryant, in which, after making ample allowance for some forced etymologies, and much superstition, the reader will find an extent of learning, a depth of research, and an ingenuity of inference, unrivalled among the inquirers into the early history of the human race. Sir William Jones, who regretted that Mr. Bryant's knowledge of Oriental literature had not enabled him to bring evidence more largely from its stores, and that he had not pursued a plan more strictly analytical, has prosecuted the same inquiry, in a series of Discourses, addressed to the Asiatic Society, on the Hindus, the Arabs, the Tartars, the Persians, the Chinese, &c., and on the Origin and Families of Nations; and by a different plan, and the aid of his Oriental literature, has arrived at the same conclusions.
All inquirers have been struck with the coincidence between the story of Noah, and that of the Hindu primeval sire Satyavrata. We may suspect that there has been a little Brahmemcal forcing to make it so exact as in the following passage:—Mr. Wilford says, “It is related in the Padma-Puran, that Satyavrata, whose miraculous preservation from a general deluge is told at length in the Matsya, had three sons, the eldest of whom was named Jyapeti, or Lord of the Earth. The others were C’harma and Sharma, which last are, in the vulgar dialects, usually pronounced C’ham and Sham, as we frequently hear Kishn for Crishna. The royal patriarch (for such is his character in the Puráns), was particularly fond of Jyapeti, to whom he gave all the regions to the north of Himalaya, in the snowy mountains, which extend from sea to sea, and of which Caucasus is a part. To Sharma he allotted the countries to the south of those mountains: But he cursed C’harma; because when the old Monarch was accidentally inebriated with a strong liquor made of fermented ice, C’harma laughed: and it was in consequence of his father's imprecation that he became a slave to the slaves of his brothers.” (As. Res. in. 312, 313.) The following statement by the same enquirer is confirmed by a variety of authorities:—“The first descendants of Swayambhava (another name for Satyavrata) are represented in the Puranas as living in the mountains to the north of India, toward the sources of the Ganges, and downward, as far as Serinagara and Hari-dwar. But the rulers of mankind lived on the summit of Meru, towards the north: where they appear to have established the seat of justice, as the Puranas make frequent mention of the oppressed repairing thither for redress.” Wilford on Chron. of Hind., As. Res. v. 260. “The Mexicans,” (says Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, b. vi. sect. 1.) “had a clear tradition, though somewhat corrupted by fable, of the creation of the world, of the universal deluge, of the confusion of tongues, and of the dispersion of the people; and had actually all these events represented in their pictures (their substitute for writing). They said that when mankind were overwhelmed with the deluge, none were preserved but a man and woman, named Coxcox and Xochiguebzal, who saved themselves in a litttle bark, and landing upon a mountain, called Colhuacan, had there a great many children, who were all born dumb; but that a dove at last, from a lofty tree, imparted to them languages; all, however, differing so much, that they could not understand one another.”
234. The cautious inquirer will not probably be inclined to carry this era very far back. “The newness of the world,” says the judicious Goguet, (vol. iii. dissert. 3,) “is proved by the imperfection of many of the arts in the ancient world, and of all the sciences which depend upon length of time and experience.” By the newness of the world, he means the newness of human society. In examining the remains of organized bodies which have been extricated from the bowels of the earth, vegetables are found at the greatest depth; immediately above them small shell-fish, and some of the most imperfect specimens of the animal creation; nearer the surface quadrupeds, and the more perfectly organized animals: lastly man, of whom no remains have ever been found at any considerable depth. The inference is, that compared with the other organized beings on this globe, man is a recent creation. See Parkinson's Organic Remains.
235. There is scarcely an exception to this rule. Minos often retired into a cave, where he boasted of having familiar conversations with Jupiter: Mneues, the great legislator of Egypt, proclaimed Hermes as the author of his laws: it was by the direction of Apollo that Lycurgus undertook the reformation of Sparta: Zaleucus, the legislator of the Locrians, gave out that he was inspired by Minerva: Zathruspes, among the Arimaspians, pretended that his laws were revealed to him, by one of their divinities: Zamolxis boasted to the Getes of his intimate communications with the goddess Vesta: the pretensions of Numa among the Romans are well known. (See Goguet, Origin of Laws, part II. book I. ch. i. art. 9.) The Druids, among the ancient Britons and Gauls, were at once the legislators, and the confidants of the Divinity. Odin, who was himself a Divinity, and his descendants, who partook of his nature, were the legislators of the Scandinavians. “The legislators of the Scythians,” says Mallet (Introd. to Hist. of Denmark, ii. 43,) “represented God himself as the author of the laws which they gave to their fellow-citizens.”
236. This is a necessary supposition, as the generation to whom the Vedas were first presented must have known that they had no previous acquaintance with them, and could not believe that they had remained familiar to mortals from the period of their first revelation.
237. There is an instructive passage in Plato (De Repub. lib. ii.) in which he ascribes the origin of political association and laws, to the division of labour; Γιγνται πολις, ως εγ’ μαι, επειδαν τνγχανειμωνκαςοςουκ αυταρκης, αλλα πολλων ενδεης. From this cause, he says, men are obliged to associate, one man affording one accommodation, another another, and all exchanging the accommodations which each can provide, for the different accommodations provided by the rest. It is curious that, in limiting the simplest form of a political association, he makes it to consist of four or five classes of men. Αλλα μεν πρωτη γε και μιγιςη των, ἡ της τροφñς παρασκευη, δευτερα ὶε οικησιως, τριτη εσθητος καιτων τοιουτων. ∗ ∗ ∗ Ειη δ’ αν η’ γε αναγκαιοτατη πολις εκ τ[WW] That sagacious contemplator of the progress of society, Millar, describing the ancient state of the Anglosaxons, remarks, that the people of England were then divided into four great classes, the artificers and tradesmen, husbandmen, those who exercised the honourable profession of arms, and the clergy. He adds, “From the natural course of things it should seem that, in every country where religion has had so much influence as to introduce a great body of ecclesiastics, the people, upon the first advance made in agriculture and in manufactures, are usually distributed into the same number of classes or orders. This distribution is accordingly to be found not only in all the European nations, formed upon the ruins of the Roman empire; but in other ages, and in very distant parts of the globe. The ancient inhabitants of Egypt are said to have been divided into the clergy, the military people, the husbandmen, and the artificers. The establishment of the four great castes, in the country of Indostan, is precisely of the same nature.” (Millar's Historical View of the English Government, book I. ch. xi.) In Egypt the people were divided by law in the same hereditary manner as in Hindostan. It is highly worthy of observation that, notwithstanding all the revolutions and changes to which Egypt has been subject, some remains of the division into castes are yet visible. “La distinction par familles se retrouve encore dans les villes; l’exercise des arts et metiers est hereditaire, le fils imite les procedés de son pere, et ne les perfectionne pas.” (Le General Reynier, De l’Egypte, p. 59.) It is worthy of observation that the Colchians and Iberians were also divided into four castes, whose rank and office were hereditary and unchangeable. (Herodot. lib. ii. cap. civ. cv. Strabo, lib. ii. 765. See also Bryant's Ancient Mythology, v. 102, 107.) In some situations this step in civilization, natural and simple as it may appear, is not easily made. How long have the wandering Arabs remained without it? What an improvement would the bare institution of the Hindu classes be upon their condition? and what merit would the legislature have, who should introduce it? The same observation is applicable to the Tartars.
There is a passage in Herodotus which leads us to conclude, that the distinction of castes existed among the Medes, at the commencement of the monarchy. He says (lib. i. cap. ci.) [WW] He says nothing to fix the meaning of the word [WW]. But we know that the [WW] were the priests, and hence there is matter of proof to make us suppose, that the other names, in like manner, express separate castes, or hereditary classes and professions.
The Persian Monarch Jemsheed is said to have divided the Persians into four classes. Malcolm's Hist. of Persia, i. 205.
In like manner among the Peruvians, “Les citoyens,” to use the language of Carli (Lettres sur l'Amerique, let. xiii.) “furent distribués en classes ou tribus. ** Il n’etoit pas permis, ni par mariage, ni par changement d’habitation, de confondre une classe avec l'autre.” In Let. xiv, it is added, “L’education consistoit à apprendre aux enfans rôturiers le metier que chaque père de famille exercoit,” &c. Clavigero, too, respecting the Mexicans, tells us, (Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. v.) “The sons in general learned the trades of their fathers, and embraced their professions,” &c.
In Plato's Timæus, (p. 1044, Ed. Ficin. Francof. 1602), is a curious passage, which asserts that the same division of professions, which still existed among the Egyptians, existed, at a period long antecedent, among the Athenians: [WW]
238. It was in the dark ages that the Romish priesthood usurped so many privileges. Our ancestors were barbarous when the Druids exercised over them an unlimited authority. The soothsayers and priests among the Greeks and Romans lost their influence as knowledge increased. Among the rude inhabitants of Mexico and Peru, the authority of the priest equalled or superseded that of the king, and was united in the same person.
239. Laws of Menu, ch. i.
240. Ib. x.
241. Ib. vii.
242. Ib. viii. 271, 2. “From his high birth alone, a Brahmen is an object of veneration even to deities; his declarations to mankind are decisive evidence; and the Veda itself confers on him that character.” Ib. xi. 85.
243. Ib. x. 1.
244. Ib. x. 206.
245. Laws of Menu, ch. xi. 31, 32, 33.
246. Ib. ix. 313–319.
247. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 380.
248. Ib. viii.
249. Ib. vii. 133.
250. Halhed, Preface to the Code of Gentoo Laws.
251. The Druids among the ancient Britons, as there was a striking similarity in many of the doctrines which they taught, so possessed many similar privileges and distinctions to those of the Brahmens. Their persons were inviolable; they were exempt from taxes and military service; they exercised the legislative, the judicial, and, with the exception of commanding armies in the field, almost the whole of the executive powers of government. Cæsar, De Bell. Gal. lib. vi. 13, 14. Henry's Hist. of Great Britain, i, 302, 317.
252. See the Laws of Menu, passim. “The organs of sense and action, reputation, a heavenly mansion, life, a great name, children, cattle, are all destroyed by a sacrifice offered with trifling presents: let no man therefore sacrifice without liberal gifts.” Ib. xi. 40. “Let every man, according to his ability, give wealth to Brahmens detached from the world and learned in scripture; such a giver shall attain heaven after this life.” Ib. xi. 6. “Having reckoned up the persons whom the Brahmen is obliged to support, having ascertained his Divine knowledge and moral conduct, let the king allow him a suitable maintenance from his own household; and, having appointed him a maintenance, let the king protect him on all sides, for he gains from the Brahmen whom he protects a sixth part of his virtue.” Ib. xi. 22, 23. “Of that king in whose dominions a learned Brahmen is afflicted with hunger, the whole kingdom will in a short time be afflicted with famine.” Ib. vii. 114.
The Brahmens are occasionally exhorted to observe some decorum and measure in their pursuit of gifts. Laws of Menu, iv. 186. “Should the king be near his end through some incurable disease, he must bestow on the priests all his riches accumulated from legal fines; and, having duly committed his kingdom to his son, let him seek death in battle; or, if there be no war, by abstaining from food.”
“The influence of priestcraft over superstition is no where so visible as in India. All the commerces of life have a strict analogy with the ceremonies of religion; and the Brachman has inculcated such a variety of strange persuasions, that the Gentoo finds himself every hour under the necessity of consulting his spiritual guide. The building of a pagoda, and maintaining within it a set of priests, is believed the best action which human virtue is capable of. Every offence is capable of being expiated by largesses to the Brachmans, prescribed by themselves according to their own measures of avarice and sensuality.” Orme, On the Government and People of Indostan, 432.
“Since the Brahmen sprang from the most excellent part, since he was the first born, and since he possesses the Veda, he is by right the chief of this whole creation.
“Him, the Being, who exists of himself, produced in the beginning from his own mouth, that having performed holy rites, he might present clarified butter to the Gods, and cakes of rice to the progenitors of mankind, for the preservation of this world:
“What created being then can surpass him, with whose mouth the Gods of the firmament continually feast on clarified butter, and the manes of ancestors, on hallowed cakes?
“Of created things, the most excellent are those which are animated; of the animated, those which subsist by intelligence; of the intelligent, mankind; and of men, the sacerdotal class;
“Of priests, those eminent in learning: of the learned, those who know their duty; of those who know it, such as perform it virtuously; and of the virtuous, those who seek beatitude from a perfect acquaintance with scriptural doctrine.
“The very birth of Brahmens is a constant incarnation of Dherma, God of Justice; for the Brahmen is born to promote justice, and to procure ultimate happiness.
“When a Brahmen springs to light, he is born above the world, the chief of all creatures, assigned to guard the treasury of duties, religious and civil.
“Whatever exists in the universe is all in effect, though not in form, the wealth of the Brahmen; since the Brahmen is entitled to it all by his primogeniture and eminence of birth.” Laws of Menu, i. 93–100.
253. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. The law is laid down somewhat differently in Halhed's Code: when a man finds any thing belonging to another, the magistrate is to be informed, and if the finder is a Brahnen, he keeps the whole; from others a part goes to the magistrate; and from a Sooder all but two twelfths. Halhed's Gentoo Laws, ch. 21, sect. 2.
254. Laws of Menu, ch. ii. The mendicity of the priests seems to have been a general instrument of priestly imposture. It was so among the Romans; and no unproductive one. See Apuleius, Metam. l. viii. p. 262. Cicero, in his Book of Laws, proposes to restrain the begging trade of the priests.—Stipem sustulimus, nisi eam quam ad paucos dies propriam Idæ Martis excepimus: Implet enim superstitione auimos, exhaurit domos. Cic. de Legib. 1. ii. 9, 16. The Popish mendicants are a notorious instance. See Middleton's Letter from Rome, in Works of Dr. Conyers Middleton, iii. 116.
255. See the Laws of Menu, passim.
256. To this observation I know not that any exception can be adduced, which is not resolvable into the influence of a government purely or chiefly military. This, however, is the effect of art, or of forced circumstances, not of nature, or of reason. It is Mandeville, I think, who remarks, that fear is the origin of the admiration which has been generally bestowed upon the profession of arms; and in confirmation of this observes, that it is the most timid sex by whom the military character is the most admired. Mr. Hume has remarked, that it is the most timid sex, also, who are the most devoted to superstition, and the priests.
257. Halhed's Code, ch. xv. sect. 2. “If a man of an inferior caste,” says the Gentoo code, “proudly affecting an equality with a person of superior caste, should speak at the same time with him, the magistrate in that case shall punish him to the extent of his abilities.”—Ib.
258. See the Laws of Menu, and Halhed's Gentoo Code, passim. The case of theft is an exception to this, the higher classes being punished the most severely.
259. See the Laws of Menu, and Halhed's Gentoo Code, passion.
260. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 413.
261. Ib. x. 129.
262. Ib. viii. 417. If he be distressed for subsistence, says the gloss of Culluca.
263. Ib.
264. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 80, 81. “If,” says the Gentoo code, “a man of the Sooder reads the beids of the Shaster, or the Pooran, to a Brahmen, a Chehter, or a Bin, then the magistrate shall heat some bitter oil, and pour it into the aforesaid Sooder's mouth; and if a Sooder listens to the beids of the Shaster, then the oil, heated as before, shall be poured into his ears, and arzeez and wax shall be melted together, and the orifice of his ears shall be stopped up therewith. If a Sooder gets by heart the beids of the Shaster, the magistrate shall put him to death. If a Sooder always performs worship and the jugg, the magistrate shall put him to death. If a Sooder gives much and frequent molestation to a Brahmen, the magistrate shall put him to death.” (Halhed's Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xxi. sect. 7.) It is among the most barbarous tribes, that we in general find the principle of subordination abused to the greatest excess. Perhaps no instance is equal to that which exhibits itself among the Hindus. “Among the Natchez,” (says Robertson, Hist. Americ. ii. 139,) a powerful tribe now extinct, on the banks of the Mississippi, a difference of rank took place, with which the northern tribes were altogether unacquainted. Some families were reputed noble, and enjoyed hereditary dignity. The body of the people was considered as vile, and formed only for subjection. This distinction was marked by appellations which intimated the high elevation of the one state, and the ignominious depression of the other: the former were called Respectable; the latter, the Stinkards.”—“To be a servant” (says Millar, Distinction of Ranks, ch. v. sect. 1.) “in these primitive times, was almost universally the same thing as to be a slave. The master assumed an unlimited jurisdiction over his servants, and the privilege of selling them at pleasure. He gave them no wages beside their maintenance; and he allowed them to have no property, but claimed to his own use whatever, by their labour, or by any other means, they happened to acquire.—Thus the practice of domestic slavery appears to have been early established among the nations of antiquity; among the Egyptians, the Phœnicians, the Jews, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.—The same practice obtains at present among all those tribes of barbarians, in different parts of the world, with which we have any correspondence.”
265. Laws of Menu, ch. x. passim. Mr. Colebrooke on the Indian Classes, Asiat. Researches, v. 63.
266. Vide Halhed's Code of Gentoo Laws, preface.
267. Colebrooke on the Indian Classes, Asiat. Research. v. 53. On this subject, however, that intelligent author tells us, that Sanscrit authorities in some instances disagree. Classes mentioned by one are omitted by another; and texts differ on the professions assigned to some tribes. It is a subject, he adds, in which there is some intricacy.
268. “Avoid,” says the Tantra, “the touch of the Chandala, and other abject classes. Whoever associates with them undoubtedly falls from his class; whoever bathes or drinks in wells or pools which they have caused to be made, must be purified by the five productions of kine.” Colebrooke on the Indian Classes, Asiat. Research. v. 53. From this outline of the classification and distribution of the people, as extracted from the books of the Hindus, some of the most intelligent of our British observers, appeal to the present practice of the people, which they affirm is much more conformable to the laws of human welfare, than the institutions described in the ancient books. Of this, the author is aware: so inconsistent with the laws of human welfare are the institutions described in the Hindu ancient books, that they never could have been observed with any accuracy; it is, at the same time, very evident, that the institutions described in the ancient books are the model upon which the present frame of Hindu society has been formed; and when we consider the powerful causes which have operated so long to draw, or rather to force, the Hindus from their inconvenient institutions and customs, the only source of wonder is, that the state of society which they now exhibit should hold so great a resemblance to that which is depicted in their books. The President de Goguet is of opinion, that a division of the people into tribes and hereditary professions similar to that of the Hindus existed in the ancient Assyrian empire, and that it prevailed from the highest antiquity over almost all Asia, [174] book ii. Chap. 2.(part I. book I. ch. i. art. 3; Herodot. lib. i. cap. 200; Strab. liv. xvi. p. 1082; Diod. lib. ii. p. 142.) Cecrops distributed into four tribes all the inhabitants of Attica. (Pollux, lib. viii. cap. 9. sect. 100; Diodorus Siculus, lib. ii. p. 33.) Theseus afterwards made them three, by uniting, as it should seem, the sacerdotal class with that of the nobles, or magistrates. They consisted then of nobles and priests, labourers or husbandmen, and artificers; and there is no doubt that, like the Egyptians and Indians, they were hereditary. (Plutarch. Vit. Thes.) Aristotle expressly informs us, (Polit. lib. vii. cap. 10.) that in Crete the people were divided by the laws of Minos into classes after the manner of the Egyptians. We have most remarkable proof of a division, the same as that of the Hindus, anciently established among the Persians. In the Zendavesta, translated by Anquetil Duperron, is the following passage: Ormusd said, There are three measures [literally weights, that is, tests, rules] of conduct, four states, and five places of dignity.—The states are: that of the priest; that of the soldier; that of the husbandman, the source of riches; and that of the artizan or labourer.” Zendavesta, i. 141. There are sufficient vestiges to prove an ancient establishment of the same sort among the Buddhists of Ceylon, and by consequence to infer it among the other Buddhists over so large a portion of Asia. See a Discourse of Mr. Joinville on the Religion and Manners of the People of Ceylon, Asiat. Research. vii. 430, et seq.
269. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 3.
270. Ib. ch. vii.
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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Part 3 of 6

271. Kœmpfer, in his History of Japan, book i. chap. v. says, “The whole empire is governed in general by the Emperor, with an absolute and monarchical power, and so is every province in particular by the prince, who, under the Emperor, enjoys the government thereof.”—For the similarity of the institution in the Ottoman government, see Volney's Travels in Syria and Egypt, ii. 376.
272. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 113–117. There is a very remarkable similarity between this mode of subdividing authority among the Hindus, and that adopted by the Incas of Peru. “The Incas,” (says Garcilasso de la Vega, part i. book ii. ch. v.) “had one method and rule in their government, as the best means to prevent all mischiefs and disorders; which was this. That of all the people in every place, whether more or less, a register should be kept, and a division made of ten and ten, over which one of the ten, whom they called the Decurion, was made superior over the other nine; then every five divisions of this nature had a lord over them, to whom was committed the charge and care of fifty; then over two divisions of fifty, another lord, who supervised 100; so five divisions of 100 had a magistrate who commanded 500; the divisions of 100 had a leader over 1000,” &c. The highest officer under the Inca was the governor of a province. Each inferior officer accounted for his conduct to the superior next above him. See, further, Acosta, Nat. and Mor. Hist. of the Indies, book vi. ch. xiii.; Carli, Lettres sur l'Amerique, let. xiii. The analogy of the Anglosaxon institution of tythings, or ten families; of hundreds, or ten tythings; and counties, will suggest itself to every imagination.
273. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 118, 119. The first of these provisions, that for the lord of one town, is not accurately ascertained; the two or five plough-lands are sufficiently distinct; but the produce of a village or large town must have been extremely uncertain and ambiguous.
274. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 120–122. A similar officer formed a similar part of the Peruvian establishment. He was denominated Cucuy Kwc, which is to say, “Eye of all.” Carli, Lettres sur l'Amerique, let. xiii.
275. Menu, ut supra, 123, 124.
276. Ibid. 54.
277. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 56. Another precept to the king, respecting the mode of consulting with his ministers, is very expressive of the simplicity of the times; “Ascending up the back of a mountain, or going privately to a terrace, a bower, a forest, or a lonely place, without listeners, let him consult with them unobserved.” Ib. 147.
278. Ib. 58.
279. Orme on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 417. The same accurate and intelligent observer immediately adds; “The infantry consists in a multitude of people assembled together without regard to rank and file,” &c.
280. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 70.
281. Ib. 74.
282. Ib. 103.
283. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 89.
284. Ib. 88.
285. “The forces of the realm must be immediately regulated by the commander in chief.” Ib. 65.
286. Ib. 113–120.
287. Halhed's Gentoo Code, preface.
288. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 14–22.
289. Ib ch. viii. 1.
290. Ib. ch. viii. 20. To learned and righteous Brahmens the magistrate shall give money, and every token of respect and consideration in the judgment seat, to have them near him; but he shall not retain fewer than ten of such Brahmen. Gentoo Code, ch. iii. sect. 1. The more sacred books of law the men by denomination holy were alone permitted to read. Thus the law of Menu (ch. ii. 16.) “He whose life is regulated by holy texts, from his conception even to his funeral pile, has a decided right to study this code, but no other person whatsoever.” The more profane commentaries, however, were less confined, and the man versed in these might suffice for the common business of administering justice.
291. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 9. 10. The Gentoo Code, translated by Mr. Halhed, directs, that when the king in person cannot examine a cause, he substitute a learned Brahmen; if a Brahmen cannot be found, a Cshatriya, &c. but in no case a Sudra. Gentoo Code, ch. iii. sect. 1.
292. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 9, 10.
293. Gentoo Code, ch. iii. sect. 5.
294. Orme on the Government, &c. of Indostan, p. 451.
295. This publicity of judicial proceedings is common to rude nations. In the country and days of Job, the judge sat at the gate of the city, ch. ix. ver. 7. Moses alludes to the same practice, Gen. xxiii. 18; and Homer tells us it was the practice in the heroic ages of Greece, Il. lib. xviii. ver. 497.
296. Orme on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 444–446. Another of our most instructive travellers, Mr. Foster, in the Dedication prefixed to his Journey from Bengal to England, p. vii., calls Hindustan, “A land whose every principle of government is actuated by a rapacious avarice, whose people never approach the gate of authority without an offering.”—This is a subject to which he often adverts; he says again, (i. 7,) “In Asia, the principles of justice, honour, or patriotism, as they confer no substantial benefit, nor tend to elevate the character, are seldom seen to actuate the mind of the subject.”
297. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. 37.
298. Even under a system, where the power of the altar was from the beginning rendered subservient to the power of the sword, the right of interpreting a code of sacred laws is found to confer an important authority. Hear the opinion of a recent, and penetrating observer:—“L’expression vague des preceptes du Koran, seule loi ecrite dans les pays Musulmans, laisse aux docteurs une grande latitude pour les interpretations, et bien des moyens d'augmenter leur autorité. Quoique cette religion ait peu de dogmes, le fanatisme qu’elle inspire est un instrument que les prêtres savent employer avec succés.” De l’Egypte, par le Gen. Reynier, p. 62.
299. See what is observed by three great authors, Hume, Blackstone, and Paley, on the influence of the crown in England. See also what is observed by Lord Bolingbroke on the same subject, in his Dissertatior on Parties.
300. Examine that important specimen of an original Hindu book of law, the Institutes of Menu. See too the confession of Mr. Colebrooke in the preface to his translation of the Digest of Hindu Law on Contracts and Successions; a work compiled a few years ago, under authority of the English government, by some of the most learned and respectable of the Brahmens.
301. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. The division and arrangement of the same subject, in the compilation translated by Mr. Halhed, are very similar, as will appear by the following titles of the chapters:—1. Of lending and borrowing; 2. Division of inheritable property; 3. Of justice; 4. Trust or deposit; 5. Selling a stranger's property; 6. Of shares; 7. Ahenation by gift; 8. Of servitude; 9. Of wages; 10. Of rent or hire; 11. Purchase or sale; 12. Boundaries or limits; 13. Shares in the cultivation of land; 14. Of cities, towns, and of the fines for damaging a crop; 15. Scandalous and bitter expressions; 16. Of assaults; 17. Theft; 18. Violence; 19. Adultery; 20. Of what concerns women; 21. Of sundry articles. In the elaborate Digest on the subject of Contracts and Inheritances, which has been translated by Mr. Colebrooke, the titles of the books, as far as they extend, coincide exactly with the titles in the Institutes of Menu; thus, Book 1. On loans, and their payment; Book 2. On deposits; Book 3. On the nonperformance of agreements; Book 4. On the duties of man and wife. The part of the work which relates to inheritance is included in one book, and is the same with the 17th title enumerated in the Institutes of Menu.
302. The Romans, by the ambiguity of their word jura, which signified either rights or laws, were enabled to use, without manifest impropriety, such expressions as, jura of persons, and jura of things: for though it was absurd to talk of the rights of things, things having a right to nothing, yet it was not absurd to talk of the laws of things. In their expressions jura personarum and jura rerum, there was, therefore, only confusion of ideas, and ambiguity. The English lawyers, from two of their characteristic properties, blind imitation, and the incapacity of clearing confused ideas, have adopted the same division; though in their set of phrases, rights of persons, and rights of things, there is not only confusion and ambiguity, but gross absurdity.
303. A very odd attempt at a further generalization upon the first nine titles appears in Mr. Colebrooke's Digest. His first book, On Loans, corresponds exactly with the first title in the Institutes of Menu. His second book, On Deposits, is divided into four chapters, which are exactly the 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th titles in the list of Menu. His third book, which is entitled, “On the Nonperformance of Agreements,” is divided into four chapters, and these are the same with the four succeeding titles in the classification of Menu.—1. Loans, 2. Deposits, 3. Nonperformance of agreements: These, according to the logic of the Digest, are the grand classes of contracts, and the titles which belong to them. The last of the titles, it is evident, cannot belong to any particular class: Nonperformance is incident to all classes of contracts. Either, therefore, this is an improper title altogether, or it ought to stand as the title of the whole subject of contracts: and then Nonperformance of Agreements would include, loans, deposits, and every thing else. Under Deposits the Digest includes the following sub-titles: 1. Deposits, and other bailments; 2. Sale without ownership; 3. Concerns among partners; 4. Subtraction of gifts: of which the last two have no more to do with deposits than they have with loans, or any the most remote branch of the subject; and the second is either a part of the first, and ought to have been included under it, as relating to the sale of things deposited, or that also has no connexion with the title. Let us next contemplate the sub-titles included under Nonperformance of Agreements. They are, 1. Nonpayment of wages or hire; 2. Nonperformance of agreements, chiefly in association; 3. Rescission of purchase and sale; 4. Disputes between master and herdsman: As if these included all the agreements of which there could be nonperformance. The first and last of them, moreover, are the same thing, or the last is a portion of the first. It is needless to carry the criticism farther.
304. It is curious, though some what humbling, to observe how far great men may let authority mislead them. “The articles,” says Dr. Robertson, “of which the Hindu code is composed, are arranged in natural and luminous order.” Disquisition concerning India, Appendix, p. 217.
305. Lord Kames, Historical Law Tracts, p. 123, 154. Grotius de Jure Belli ac Pacis, lib. II. cap. ii. 2. Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, book II. c. i. The annotator on some of the late editions of Blackstone differs from the doctrine in the text. But that writer seems to have mistaken an important circumstance, carefully attended to by the great lawyers quoted above, that when the commodities of the earth began to be appropriated they were not without owners, but the common property of the race at large.
306. L. L. Ethel. 10, 12. L. L. Edg. Hickes. Dissert. p. 30.
307. Ch. viii. 202.
308. A curious enumeration of the cases in which the property of one man is so incorporated with that of another as to be inseparable, is given in the Roman law, under the head of Accessio: Inclusio, adferruminatio, intextura, inædificatio, scriptura, pictura, specificatio, commixtio, et confusio.
The English law (a few special cases excepted) gives an absolute right of property to the bona fide purchaser, by whatever means the commodity may have come into the hands of the vendor. If the English law, however, takes care of the purchaser, it must be owned that it is deplorably defective in the care which it takes of the party by whom the commodity is lost.
309. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 222, 223. See also Halhed's Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xi. and Mr. Colebrooke's Digest of Hindu Law, book III. ch. iii.
310. Ib. 401, 402. It is worthy of remark that this was a regulation too among the ancient Britons. Leges Wallicæ, lib. iii. 247. Henry's Hist. Brit. iv. 202.
311. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 224 to 227.
312. See Laws of Menu, ch. viii.; Halhed's Gentoo Code, iv.; Colebrooke's Digest, book II. ch. i.; Heineccii Pandect. pars III. lib. xvi. tit. 3, on the subject of deposits, and the importance of this class of transactions in the early days of Rome, with the causes of that importance.
The reader may see one of the few attempts which have been made to let in the light of common sense upon the law of England, in the Essay on Bailments, by Sir William Jones.
313. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 189.
314. The language of English law in the case of this contract is defective, and a source of confusion. In the case of other contracts, it has one name for the act of one of the parties, another name for that of the other. Thus, in the case of exchange, one of the parties is said to sell, the other to buy; in that of a loan, one of the parties is said to lend, the other to borrow. In the present case, it often uses but one name for the acts of both parties; he who gives, and he who receives, the use, being both said to hire. The Civilians are saved from this inconvenience by the use of the Latin language; in which the act of the one party is termed locatio, that of the other conductio. To let and to hiro, if uniformly employed, would answer the same purpose in English.
315. Institut. Justin. lib. in. tit. 25. Locatio et conductio proxima est emptioni et venditioni, iisdemque juris regulis consistit.
316. The simplicity of some of the enactments provokes a smile; “If a person hath hired any thing for a stipulated time he shall pay the rent accordingly.” (Gentoo Code, x.) Again, “If a person, having agreed for the rent of the water of a pool, or of the water of a well, or of the water of a river, or of a house, does not pay it, the magistrate shall cause such rent and hire to be paid.” Ibid.
317. If a hired servant perform not his work according to agreement, he shall be fined, and forfeit his wages. What he has been prevented by sickness from performing, he is allowed to execute after he is well; but if he leaves unfinished, either by himself or a substitute, any part of the stipulated service, however small, he is deprived of the hire for the whole. One branch of this subject, the obligations between masters, and the servants who tend their cattle, is of so much importance, denoting a state of society approaching the pastoral, as to constitute a whole title of Hindu law. The principal object is to define those injuries accruing to the cattle, and those trespasses committed by them, for which the keeper is responsible. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 214 to 218, and 229 to 244. Halhed's Gentoo Code, viii, ix. Colebrooke's Digest, book III. ch. ii. and iv.
318. Laws of Menu, ch. vii. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. i. sect. 2. Colebrooke's Digest, part I. book I. ch. iii.
319. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. Colebrooke's Digest, part I. book I. ch. iv. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. i. sect. 3.
320. It was perfectly familiar to the Jews at the time of their departure from Egypt; Deuteron. ch. xxiii. 20.
321. Laws of Menu, viii. 151.
322. Halhed, Preface to the Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 53.
323. “Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother, usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury. Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury.” Deuteron. xxiii. 19, 20.
324. The tribes of Burren Sanker, that is, all the mixed classes, pay at the rate of one in sixteen (or rather more than six per cent.) per month. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. i. sect. 1.
325. It is curious that this too was a law of Egypt, at least in regard to loans upon security. Diod. Sic. lib. i. cap. 79. Goguet's Origin of Laws, part III. book I. ch. iv.
326. For the details respecting the law of interest, consult Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 140 to 154. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. 1. sect. 1. Colebrooke's Digest, part I. book I. ch. ii.
327. This mode of personal seizure had place at an early age among the Egyptians; but they made sufficient advancement to abolish it. A law of king Bocchoris permitted the creditor to seize only the goods of his debtor for payment. Diod. Sic. lib. i. p. 90.
328. Colebrooke's Digest, part I. book I. ch. vi. sect. 240, 241.
329. For the laws respecting recovery of debt, see Laws of Menu, ch. viii. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. i. sect. 5. Colebrooke's Digest, part I. book I. ch. lvi.
330. Laws of Menu, viii. 139.
331. See an account of the practice of sitting in dherna, by Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth), Asiat. Researches, iv. 330 to 332. He tells us that, since the institution of the court of justice at Benares in 1783, the practice has been less frequent, but that even the interference of that court and of the resident had occasionally been unable to check it. He tells us, too, that some of the pundits, when consulted, declared the validity to such claims as are just: others denied its validity, except where the party confirmed the engagement after the coercion is withdrawn. But it is evident that these restrictions are inconsistent with the facts which Lord Teigumouth records, and are mere attempts of the pundits, according to their usual practice, to interpret their laws into as great a coincidence as possible with the ideas of the great persons by whom the questions are put to them. A regulation was made by the Bengal government in 1795 for preventing this practice. See papers, ordered to be printed by the House of Commons, 3d June, 1813, p. 431. See also Broughton's Mhratta Camp, p. 42.
332. “Among barbarians in all parts of the world, persons who belong to the same family are understood to enjoy a community of goods. In those early ages, when men are in a great measure strangers to commerce or the alienation of commodities, the right of property is hardly distinguished from the right of using or possessing; and those persons who have acquired the joint-possession of any subject are apt to be regarded as the joint proprietors of it.” Millar on the English government, i. 190.
333. The whole too of that Title of law, “Concerns among partners,” refers not so much to a joint-stock property, contributed by certain individuals for carrying on any particular business, as to the property of a number of persons, most commonly brothers or other near relations, who agree to live together, and to have all their effects in common. The multitude of the laws proves the frequency of the transactions.—The old law of inheritance among the Romans was altogether founded upon the same ideas. Fundamentum successionis veteris erat conservatio familiarum. Familia enim universitas quædam videbatur, cujus princeps est paterfamilias.—Quum ergo proximi in familia essent liberi vel sui heredes, tanquam vivo patre, quodammodo domini et [WW] legibus xii. tabularum cautum fuerat; SI INTESTATO MORITUR CUI SUUS HERES NEC ESCIT, AGNATUS PROXIMUS FAMILIAM HABETO. Heinec. in lnst. lib iii. tit. i. sect. 690.
334. Laws of Menu, ch. ix. 105.
335. Colebrooke's Digest, part II. book V. ch. iii. sect. 114.
336. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. ii. sect. 11. Colebrooke's Digest, part II. book V. ch. ii. Mr. Halhed has remarked that the demand of the prodigal son in the Gospel for his portion, affords proof of a similar state of things among the Jews. The attentive reader will perceive many other strokes of resemblance. All the more cultivated nations of Asia appear to have reached a stage of society nearly the same.
337. Colebrooke's Digest, book V. ch. i. sect 2, subsect. 34. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. ii. sect. 12.
338. Colebrooke's Digest, part II. book V. ch. 3, subsect. 115, 116, ch. i. sect. 2, subsect. 34.
339. Laws of Menu, ch. ix. 214.
340. “When there are two sacred texts, apparently inconsistent, both are held to be law, for both are pronounced by the wise to be valid and reconcileable. Thus in the Veda are these texts: Let the sacrifice be when the sun has arisen, and before it has risen, and when neither sun nor stars can be seen: The sacrifice therefore may be performed at any or all of those times.” Ib. ii. 14, 15.
341. Laws of Menu, ch. ix. 188.
342. Ib. 189.
343. Colebrooke's Digest, part II. book V. ch. v. sect 320, 321, 325, 329, 331. In Halhed's Gentoo Code they are thus enumerated; one born an eunuch, blund, deaf, dumb, without hand or foot, or nose, or tongue, or privy member or fundament, and one who has no principle of religion, as well as the victims of various diseases. Gentoo Code, ch. ii. sect 5. The law is thus stated in the Institutes of Menu; eunuchs and outcasts, persons born blind or deaf, madmen, idiots, the dumb, and such as have lost the use of a limb, are excluded from a share of the heritage. But it is just, that the heir who knows his duty should give all of them food and raiment. Laws of Menu, viii. 201, 202.
344. Laws of Menu, viii. 149, &c. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. ii. sect. 2. Colebrooke's Digest, part II. book V. ch. vii.
345. The appearance of accuracy given by minuteness of detail has sometimes been quoted as a proof of refined knowledge; but it is a proof of the very reverse. Henry tells us (Hist. of Britain, i. 320) that the laws of the Druids provided with great care for the equitable division of the effects of the family according to the circumstances of every case. The ancient laws of Wales descend to very long and particular details on this subject, and make provision for every possible case with the most minute exactness. Leges Wallicæ, lib. ii. de mulieribus, cap. i. p. 70. The refinement and niceties of the Mahomedan law of succession are perhaps still more remarkable. See Mahomedan law of succession, Works of Sir William Jones, iii. 467, and the Al Sirajiyyah, with Sir William's Commentary, Ib. 505. In fact, the want of skill to ascend to a general expression, or rule, which would accurately include the different ramifications of the subject, is that which gives occasion to this minuteness of detail.
346. Those who are unmarried at the death of the father are directed to receive portions out of their brothers’ allotments, Laws of Menu, ix. 118.
347. Three persons, a wife, a son, and a slave, are declared by law to have in general no wealth exclusively their own: the wealth which they may earn is regularly acquired for the man to whom they belong.” Ib. ch. viii. 416.
348. Ib. ch. ix. 192 to 197. Colebrooke's Digest, part II. book V. ch. ix.
349. Kames's Historical Law Tracts, i. 162.
350. Impressed, when I began to study the history and character of the Hindus, with the loud encomiums I had been accustomed to hear on their attainments, and particularly their laws; which were represented as indicating a high state of civilization; this fact, which is broadly stated by Mr. Halhed, (Preface to the Gentoo Code, p. liii.) very forcibly struck me. Rude as the Arabs were at the time of Mahomed, their ideas of property included the right of devising by will. See Koran, chap. 5.
351. Historical Law Tracts, i. 159. How like is this regulation of the Burgundians to the rules among the Hindus for division of property to the sons during the father's life-time?
352. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. vii.
353. Gibbon's History of the Decl. and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. xliv.
354. See the Books of Moses, passim.
355. Diod. Sic. lib. i. p. 88.
356. Wilkins, Leg. Sax. p. 2. to 20. Mr. Turner, History of the Anglo-saxons, says, book XI. ch. viii. “The most popular of the legal punishments were the pecuniary mulcts. But as the imperfection and inutility of these could not be always disguised—as they were sometimes impunity to the rich, who could afford them, and to the poor who had nothing to pay them with, other punishments were enacted. Among these we find imprisonment, outlawry, banishments, slavery, and transportation. In other cases, we have whipping, branding, the pillory, amputation of limb, mutilation of the nose and ears, and lips, the eyes plucked out, hair torn off, stoning, and hanging. Nations not civilized have barbarous punishments.”
357. Charge to the Grand Jury of Calcutta, Dec. 4, 1788, Sir Wm. Jones's Works, iii. 26. Of this feature of their laws, a few examples will impress a lively conception. “The most pernicious of all deceivers,” says the law of Menu, “is a goldsmith who commits frauds; the king shall order him to be cut piecemeal with razors.” Laws of Menu, ch. ix. 292. “Should a wife, proud of her family and the great qualities of her kinsmen, actually violate the duty which she owes to her lord, let the king condemn her to be devoured by dogs in a place much frequented; and let him place the adulterer on an iron bed well heated, under which the executioners shall throw logs continually, till the sinful wretch be there burned to death.” Ib. viii. 371, 372. “If a woman murders her spiritual guide, or her husband, or her son, the magistrate, having cut off her ears, her nose, her hands, and her lips, shall expose her to be killed by cows.” Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. xxi. sect. 10. “Of robbers, who break a wall or partition, and commit theft in the night, let the prince order the hands to be lopped off, and themselves to be fixed on a sharp stake. Two fingers of a cutpurse, the thumb and the index, let him cause to be amputated on his first conviction; on the second, one hand and one foot; on the third, he shall suffer death.” Laws of Menu, ix. 276, 277. “A thief who, by plundering in his own country, spoils the province, the magistrate shall crucify, and confiscate his goods; if he robs in another kingdom he shall not confiscate his possessions, but shall crucify him. If a man steals any man of a superior caste, the magistrate shall bind the grass beena round his body, and burn him with fire; if he steals a woman of a superior caste, the magistrate shall cause him to be stretched out upon a hot plate of iron, and, having bound the grass beena round his body, shall burn him in the fire. If a man steals an elephant or a horse, excellent in all respects, the magistrate shall cut off his hand, and foot, and buttock, and deprive him of life. If a man steals an elephant or a horse of small account, or a camel or a cow, the magistrate shall cut off from him one hand and one foot. If a man steals a goat or a sheep, the magistrate shall cut off one of his hands. If a man steals any small animal, exclusive of the cat and the weasel, the magistrate shall cut off half his foot.” Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. xvii. sect. 3. “If a man sets fire to the tillage or plantation of another, or sets fire to a house or to a granary, or to any uninhabited spot where there is much fruit or flowers, the magistrate, having bound that person's body in the grass beena, shall burn him with fire.” Ib. xviii. “For boring the nostrils of cows belonging to priests, the offender shall instantly lose half of one foot. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 325. The same system of mutilation prevailed in Persia. Xenophon, describing the Persian punishments, says, . Xenoph. Cyropæd. lib. i. p. 92. The common mode of hanging is thus described by an eye-witness: “A hook is fixed to one end of the rope, and this hook the executioner forces with all his strength into the flesh below the criminal's chin; he is then hoisted up, and the other end of the rope is made fast to the gallows.” Bartolomeo's Travels, book II. ch. v. “If a magistrate has committed a crime, and any person, upon discovery of that crime, should beat and ill-use the magistrate, the magistrate shall thrust an iron spit through him and roast him at the fire.” Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. xvi. sect. 1.
358. “The inhuman and unequal principle of retaliation,” says Mr. Gibbon, Hist. of Decl. and Fall of the Rom. Emp. ch. xhv.
359. Strabo, lib. vi. p. 398. Potter's Antiq. book I. ch. xxvi. Blackstone's Commentaries, book IV. ch. i.
360. Diod. Sic. lib. i. p. 88, 89.
361. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 279. In a style characteristically Hindu, the following, among other cases, are specified; when a man spits on another, when he urines on him, and when he breaks wind on him. The penalties I choose not to describe. See the same chapter, 280 to 284.
362. Halhed's Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xvi. sect. 1.
363. Ib.
364. Ib.
365. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 270 to 273.
366. Laws of Menu, ch. viii, 268.
367. Ib. 334.
368. Ib. 374.
369. Ib; ix, 279.
370. There is in one passage of Menu, ch. viii. 126, an incidental exhortation to the judge, not to be regardless of the ability of the sufferer in the infliction of corporal or other punishment; and it is impossible but some regard must have been paid to it in practice: but defined sums are in almost all cases affixed to specific crimes, without the smallest reference to the ability of the payer.
371. The orthodox judge, Blackstone, as Mr. Gibbon very significantly denominates him, (See Hist. Decl. and Fall, &c. ch. xliv. n. 145) is quite an advocate for the superior criminality of an injury to a man of a superior rank. “If a nobleman strikes a peasant,” says he, “all mankind will see, that, if a court of justice awards a return of the blow, it is more than a just compensation. The execution of a needy, decrepid assassin, is a poor satisfaction for the murder of a nobleman, in the bloom of his youth, and full enjoyment of his friends, his honours, and his fortune.” Commentaries on the Laws of England, book IV. ch. i.
372. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 260, 267.
373. Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xv. sect. 2. Vide supra, p. 166.
374. Ib. xvi. sect. 1.
375. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 123.
376. Ib. 337, 338.
377. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 124, 125.
378. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. xvii. sect. 3.
379. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. xvi. sect. 1.
380. Preface to the Translation of the Institutes of Menu, Sir Wm. Jones's Works, iii. 62.
381. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 120, 121. Where the language of the text specifies the fine by naming it technically in the order of amercements, I have stated the sum, that the reader might see at a glance the proportions.
382. See the Chapter on Manners.
383. Historical Law Tracts, i. 49, 50.
384. See the Article Assault in the Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xvi. sect. 1. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 279 to 301.
385. See Kames's Historical Law Tracts, i. 63, and the authorities there quoted.
386. Supra, p. 218, 219.
387. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 344 to 348. Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xviii.
388. Mr. Halhed makes so curious an apology for this article in his preface to the Code of Gentoo Laws, p. lxiii. that I am tempted to transcribe it: “The nineteenth and twentieth chapters,” says he, “present us a lively picture of Asiatic manners, and in them a strong proof of their originality. To men of liberal and candid sentiments, neither the grossness of the portrait nor the harshness of the colouring, will seem improper or indecent, while they are convinced of the truth of the resemblance; and if this compilation does not exhibit mankind as they might have been, or as they ought to have been, this answer is plain, ‘Because it paints them as they were.’—Vices, as well as fashions, have their spring and their fall, not with individuals only, but in whole nations, when one reigning foible for a while swallows up the rest, and then retires in its turn to make room for the epidemic influence of a newer passion. Wherefore, if any opinions, not reconcileable to our modes of thinking, or any crimes not practised, and so not prohibited among us, should occur in these chapters, they must be imputed to the different effects produced on the human mind by a difference of climates, costoms, and manners, which will constantly give a particular turn and bias to the national vices.—Hence it would be a weak and frivolous argument for censuring the fifth section of this nineteenth chapter, to object that it was levelled at an offence absurd in itself, not likely to be frequent, or supposing it frequent, still to be deemed of trivial consequence; and to make this objection merely in consideration that the offence may not be usual among us, and has certainly never been forbidden by our legislature, such cavils would betray a great ignorance of the general system of human nature, as well as of the common principles of legislation; for penal laws (except for the most ordinary crimes) are not enacted until particular instances of offence have pointed out their absolute necessity; for which reason parricide was not specified among the original institutes of the celebrated lawgiver of Sparta. Hence we may with safety conclude, that the several prohibitions and penalties of this fifth section were subsequent to, and in consequence of, the commission of every species of enormity therein described.”—Mr. Halhed here maintains with very cogent reasons, though rather an unskilful style, that the Hindu morals are certainly as gross as the Hindu laws; that the latter grossness is, in fact, the result of the former.
389. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 356, 357.
390. Ib. 352 to 386. Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xix.
391. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 3.
392. Ib. 52.
393. Ib.
394. “Let him fully consider the nature of truth, the state of the case, and his own person; and next, the witnesses, the place, the mode and the time.” Ib. 45. From these circumstances it is probable that the emendation of the commentator has been added from the more enlarged knowledge of later times.
395. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 60. The same law is stated still more generally and absolutely, in the Gentoo Code, ch. iii. sect. 8.
396. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 77.
397. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. iii. sect. 8. “If the plaintiff or defendant, at their own option, appoint a single person only, not fraudulently inclined, &c. he may be a witness.”
398. Ibid.
399. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. 62.
400. Laws of Menu, ch. viii, 64 to 67.
401. Ib. 68.
402. Ib. 69, 70, 71.
403. “If,” says Mr. Hume, “the manner of punishing crimes among the Anglosaxons appear singular, the proofs were not less so: and were also the natural result of the situation of those people. Whatever we may imagine concerning the usual truth and sincerity of men who live in a rude and barbarous state, there is much more falsehood, and even perjury, among them, than among civilized nations: Virtue, which is nothing but a more enlarged and more cultivated reason, never flourishes to any degree, nor is founded on steady principles of honour, except where a good education becomes general; and where men are taught the pernicious consequences of vice, treachery, and immorality. Even superstition, though more prevalent among ignorant nations, is but a poor supply for the defects in knowledge and education: Our European ancestors, who employed every moment the expedient of swearing on extraordinary crosses and reliques, were less honourable in all engagements than their posterity, who, from experience, have omitted those ineffectual securities. This general proneness to perjury was much increased by the usual want of discernment in judges, who could not discuss an intricate evidence, and were obliged to number, not weigh, the testimony of witnesses.” History of England, Appendix I.
This subject will, one day, when the papers of Mr. Bentham are produced, be presented to the world, in all the light which full knowledge, a minute analysis, and philosophy, can bestow upon it.
Menu, ch. viii. 72.
404. Code of Gentoo Laws, ch iii. sect. 6, p. 107.
405. Laws of Menu, ch. viii.
406. Laws of Menu, ch. viii. sect. 104.
407. Halhed's Gentoo Code, ch. iii. sect. 9.
408. Ib. 6.
409. We know that grants of land by their princes were made in writing; and sunnuds, pottabs, and other writings, of legal import are numerous in modern times. That so little of them is indicated in the more ancient books of law, implies a ruder period of society; though, doubtless, we cannot be sure of their being as destitute of legal writings as the few, which we possess, of their ancient monuments would give reason to suppose.
410. For a full account both of the law and the practice respecting the trial by ordeal, see a discourse “On the Trial by Ordeal among the Hindus, by Ali Ibrahim Khan, chief magistrate at Benares,” in the Asiat. Researches, i. 389. See too the Institutes of Menu, ch. viii. 114, 115, 190; Mr. Halhed's Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. iii. sect. 6, ch. ii. sect. 15, ch. xvii. sect. 4, ch xviii., and the Translator's preface, p. 55, 56. Dr. Buchanan informs us of a shocking species of ordeal in use, in some places, in regard to those, “who, having had sexual intercourse with a person of another cast, allege that it was by mistake. If the criminal be a woman, melted lead is poured into her private parts; if it be a man, a red hot iron is thrust up. Should they be innocent it is supposed that they will not be injured.” Journey through the Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, under the orders of Marquis Wellesley, i. 307. According to Kœmpfer, the Japanese too use a species of ordeal for the discovery of guilt: History of Japan, ch. v. 236.
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